Terracotta artifacts at Nom Pagoda survive ravages of time

By Kieu Duong    January 21, 2020 | 08:09 pm GMT+7
In Nom Pagoda in northern Hung Yen Province are 122 terracotta statues, 300 years old but intact despite being hit by several floods.
Situated in Nom Village in Van Lam District, the pagoda, also known as Linh Thong Co Tu, is a tourist attraction. It was built within the Tam Giang Temple to worship generals of the Hai Ba Trung era. Hai Ba Trung or the Trung Sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, were Vietnamese military leaders who ruled for three years after rebelling in 40 CE against the first Chinese overlords of Vietnam. They are regarded as national heroines.

Situated in Nom Village in Van Lam District, the pagoda, also known as Linh Thong Co Tu, is a tourist attraction. It was built within the Tam Giang Temple to worship generals of the Hai Ba Trung era. 

Hai Ba Trung or the Trung Sisters, Trung Trac and Trung Nhi, were Vietnamese military leaders who ruled for three years after rebelling in 40 CE against the first Chinese overlords of Vietnam. They are regarded as national heroines.

In the front hall of the Nom Pagoda are two three-meter tall Dharmapala idols. The pagoda is famous for 122 large and small Buddha idols which portray Buddha’s path to enlightenment. These terracotta idols of Three Noble Buddhas, Three Sages, Bodhisattva, Eighteen Arhats, and others are placed around the altars. They were made from clay, quicklime, honey, and paper, and have multiple layers of paint.

In the front hall of Nom Pagoda are two three-meter tall Dharmapala idols.

The pagoda is famous for 122 large and small Buddha idols which portray Buddha’s path to enlightenment. These terracotta idols of Three Noble Buddhas, Three Sages, Bodhisattva, Eighteen Arhats, and others are placed around the altars. They were made from clay, quicklime, honey, and paper, and have multiple layers of paint.

Along the corridors are the Eight Dharmapalas, Four Bodhisattvas, Eighteen Arhats with gestures and unique and vivid facial expressions. Some idols measure a few meters in height while others are the size of a fist. According to a stele in the pagoda, it was built in 1680 and restored several times. 

Along the corridors are the Eight Dharmapalas, Four Bodhisattvas, Eighteen Arhats with various gestures and vivid facial expressions. Some idols measure a few meters in height while others are the size of a fist.

According to a stele in the pagoda, it was built in 1680 and restored several times. 

One of the Eight Dharmapala idols in the hall.Nom Pagoda was hit by three historic floods in 1945, 1971 and 1986, when the waters rose to the roof and washed away walls and ceilings. Yet the terracotta idols remain intact and shiny.

One of the Eight Dharmapala idols in the hall.

Nom Pagoda was hit by three historic floods in 1945, 1971 and 1986, when the waters rose to the roof and washed away walls and ceilings. Yet the terracotta idols remain intact and shiny.

The Tuyet Son idol is of Amitabha when he meditated on Tuyet Son mountain (the Himalayas). The artifacts show meticulous details: veins on the hands and feet, the lineament and wrinkles on the costume. No one can know for sure exactly when the statues were made. Some researchers believe, based on their characteristics, the idols were made between the 10th and 13th centuries, but others say they are typical of 18th century craftsmanship.

The Tuyet Son idol is of Amitabha when he meditated on Tuyet Son mountain (the Himalayas). The artifacts show meticulous details: veins on the hands and feet, the lineament and wrinkles on the costume.

No one can know for sure exactly when the statues were made. Some researchers believe, based on their characteristics, the idols were made between the 10th and 13th centuries, but others say they are typical of 18th century craftsmanship.

Other temples with terracotta idols, though fewer in number, are Dau Pagoda (Bac Ninh Province), Dat Set Pagoda (Soc Trang Province) and Mia Pagoda (Hanoi).

Other temples with terracotta idols, though fewer in number, are Dau Pagoda (Bac Ninh Province), Dat Set Pagoda (Soc Trang Province) and Mia Pagoda (Hanoi).

Other smaller idols beneath an Arhat idol are also meticulously crafted. The head of the pagoda, Thich Dong Hue, said in 1997 local villagers contributed money to repair and repaint the idols.

Other smaller idols beneath an Arhat idol are also meticulously crafted. The head of the pagoda, Thich Dong Hue, said in 1997 local villagers contributed money to repair and repaint the idols.

In the yard are many caves and cliffs (??) near an altar for the Mother Goddess.

An altar for the Mother Goddess in the yard.

Nome Pagoda statues built by terracotta, inside the caves - where possesses many small statues. (???)

Statues inside the caves built by terracotta in Nom Pagoda. The caves accommodate the pagoda's smallest statues.

A life-sized statue of Thich Thanh Tu, a monk and former vice chairman of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association, is in the Great Hall. There is also a statue of him monk at the Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi.

A life-sized statue of Thich Thanh Tu, a monk and former vice chairman of the Vietnamese Buddhist Association, is in the Great Hall. There is also a similar statue of the monk at Quan Su Pagoda in Hanoi.

To reach Nom pagoda you need to cross a stone bridge with nine piles with dragon heads that is over 200 years old. It is the only stone bridge over the Nguyet Duc River left in Hung Yen.

To reach Nom Pagoda you need to cross a stone bridge with nine piles with dragon heads that is over 200 years old. It is the only stone bridge over Nguyet Duc River left in Hung Yen Province.

 
 
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