Thursday, April 17, 2008

Centuries long learning

doctral seals, Temple of literature, Hanoi
Doctoral Seals date back to the 14 cent.

We visited the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu), dedicated to Confucius.

Amazingly this was founded in 1070 by Emperor Ly Thanh Tong in 1076, and was Vietnam's first university established here to educate Vietnam's administrative and warriors class.

It was quite sobering to wander around the grounds of this august institution and think that Europeans were in the early part of the dark ages when they were issuing doctoral seals to students. The stones have the names of the students who were issued there doctoral seals. The first was around 1400 or so.

Interestingly many of the stones have one name line erased, I can´t help wonder why, was it some kind of historical revisionism by a some who wished to remove a credited family name.

Who knows, I asked a guide who said it was mostly likely a error corrected by the university, I think not ... Still it was a very tranquil place and I sat for a period and contemplated the learning that must have taken place here over the centuries.

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