Le Van Duyet Temple

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Dedicated to General Le Van Duyet (1763–1831), this is perhaps the best example of a temple devoted to a national hero rather than to a deity or religion. Le Van Duyet helped suppress the Tay Son Rebellion, and was lauded by Emperor Gia Long. After Van  Duyet’s death, he was repudi- ated by Emperor Minh Mang  (r.1820–41), but was restored to favor in the 1840s, and the temple was built to honor him.

The main sanctuary is bereft of any images other than a large portrait of Le Van Duyet, reminding devotees that they are worshipping a mortal. Also inside is a fascinating collection of the general’s personal effects, such as crystalware, weapons, and a stuffed tiger. The patrons are mostly locals who come here to meditate, make offerings, or even seal a solemn oath in lieu of the services of a notary public. Over the years, the temple has grown into a complex of interconnected buildings, cloisters, patios, and courts. From the street, a gate leads into a large parkland, with tall trees shading the benches. The temple exterior is remarkable for its mosaic wall panels and reliefs. The outer sanctuary is  unique in its lack of embellishment. All the pillars and altars are made of carved and polished wood, as are the giant cranes and the life-size horse seen here. In contrast, the inner sanctum adjoining it is a blaze of color, with red-and-gold dragon pillars.

Le Van Duyet’s tomb is also located on the premises and an annual festival – with a chance to hear traditional boi singing – is held at the temple to mark the anniversary of his death.

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