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To Ba Vi Mountain and the mystery of Saint Tan Vien Temple

Son To, the residence of Son Tinh

Ba Vi mountain range has a small area but is quite high and steep. The mountain has 3 peaks located on a block, including: King Peak 1,296m high, Tan Vien 1,281m high and Ngoc Hoa 1,120m high, associated with the legend of Son Tinh. Although the name of the mountain is Ba Vi, the people call it Tan Vien mountain.

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Tan Vien Son sacred land of Vietnam. (Photo: Internet)

In Yu Dia Zhithe book was prepared by Nguyen Trai in 10 days as a “textbook” to teach King Le Thai Tong, writing that: “That Tan Vien mountain is the Chu mountain of our country.”.

The shape of Tan Vien is very unique, different from the mountains in Dai Viet. According to the book Lingnan stings of Tran The Phap (Tran dynasty), Tan Vien mountain is located in the west of the capital of Nam Viet country, the mountain constricts and spreads like an umbrella, so it is named Tan Vien.

The mountain “stands majestically, three peaks stand in rows, soaring as in the picture”, and Son Tinh immediately “up to the top of Van Mong (the original name of Tan Vien) to take it as a residence”.

Cao Bien also gave up

Book Lingnan stings It is said that, in the 9th century during the Northern domination period, Cao Bien – a talented general of the Tang Dynasty who was knowledgeable and very good at feng shui – used to use the art of concealment at the foot of Tan Vien mountain.

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Illustration Cao Bien flying on a paper kite looking for shelter.

To achieve the goal Cao Bien used the familiar “miracle scheme”. He carried the palanquin to the foot of the mountain to lure Son Tinh out with the technique he still uses, that is, using a virgin girl to prepare a tray to invite the gods (here, Son Tinh entered the corpse to eat the feast), then he Cutting off the girl’s head is also killing Son Tinh.

But this time, Son Tinh is powerful in that he has transformed into a five-color cloud and is about to enter the girl and fly again. Looking up, Cao Bien clearly saw that Son Tinh lifted up the clouds and spat on the plate of saliva.

The scheme failed, Cao Bien could only complain: “This place is very sacred, we cannot exclude it, one day we will have to pack up and return to the country.”. Cao Bien did not know that Tan Vien was the starting point of the Long Mach axis of Shintoism.

In the spiritual concept of the East, “Son is not high, theistic is the spirit” (meaning that the mountain is not only because it is high, if there is a god (fairy) it is a sacred mountain). From that point of view, it is easy to explain why Tan Vien is lower than Tam Dao mountain, but folk say “The highest is Tan Vien mountain / The third is Tam Dao, the second is Doc Ton”.

Because of the sacred, the spreading power of Tan Vien Son Thanh is very large. Therefore, the new folk ranked Thanh Tan at the top of the four immortal saints in Vietnam, including: Thanh Tan Vien, Thanh Giong, Chu Dong Tu and Mother Lieu Hanh.

King Minh also brought sacrifices to the gods

I don’t know when Tan Vien Son Thanh was handed down in the Vietnamese people’s mind, but in Dai Viet history book Information about Tan mountain: “In 1073, it rained continuously, so Emperor Ly Nhan Tong sent a Buddha image from Phap Van Pagoda to the capital to pray for the rain to stop. The emperor also made offerings to the mountain god Tan Vien”.

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Ba Vi sacred mountain seen from afar. (Photo: Internet)

In 1449, drought occurred in many places, crop failure, famine, so King Le Nhan Tong sent Tham Tri Bui Cam Ho and Nguyen Canh to go to Tan Vien mountain to pray.

When Tan Vien mountain collapsed, King Le Kinh Tong had it written in Dai Viet history book. That shows that Tan Vien in the mountainous area has national stature.

Even when Le Quy Don’s son Quy Kiet took the exam in 1775, besides asking Dinh Trung to do the homework for him, Le Quy Don also “stealed the grave of his ancestors in a forbidden place in Tan Vien mountain area”.

During the Nguyen Dynasty, during the reign of King Minh Mang, he ordered Cuu Dinh to be cast as a symbol of the dynasty’s prestige and stability, so the image of Tan Vien mountain was carved into Thuan Dinh (2.32m high, 1,950 kg weight) along with the Can Gio gate. (now part of Ho Chi Minh City) and Thach Han River (now in Quang Tri province). In 1850, Tan Vien Son Thanh was also saved by King Tu Duc in the national sacrificial ritual.

Tan Vien Mountain is not only sacred in Vietnam, but its fame also spreads to the North. Dai Viet history book Copy: “In the first year of the Dog and Thien Khanh year (1370)… In the spring and January of January, King Minh (China) made his own congratulatory message of Diem Nguyen Phuc, the Taoist priest Trieu Thien brought buffalo and silk offerings to the mountain god. Tan Vien and the water god of the Lo River”.

The French Ambassador rebuilt the temple

About to build Son Tinh temple on Tan Vien mountain, Dai Viet history book Copy: “Autumn, July 1145, King Ly Anh Tong ordered to build a temple to worship the mountain god Tan Vien. However, there is no record of how the temple was restored.

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Gate to Thuong Temple. (Photo: Internet)

In early 1902, when he first took office in Son Tay province, the French envoy Theodore Muselier wanted to explore Ba Vi mountain, so he organized a climbing expedition. From the foot of the mountain to the height of 600m, the group follows the trail that the Dao people living in the middle of the mountain still go, but from the height of 600m and above, the trees and vines are entangled with no trail.

Muselier was undaunted, he distributed trees to pave the way, crossing waterfalls and streams despite being bitten by insects and growling beasts. After a few days of hard work, hardship and danger, the expedition was paid. They reached the top of Tan Vien and found the Upper Temple in ruins.

Later in his memoirs, Muselier expressed his thoughts:…How many people did they mobilize to build the temple? The road is extremely difficult, very dangerous, dangerous, how much time do they take to transport materials? Besides human and horse power, what other means are involved in this? Then I kept thinking about the Saint who was worshiped in the temple.”

After the Muselier expedition, the temple was rebuilt. The first thing he did was cut down trees and arrange stones to make roads. And this road is recorded on a map of 1/10,000 scale, starting from the barracks at the foot of the mountain, along the side of the Da River, across the strait between the north and middle peaks, then along the eastern ridge to reach Tan Vien peak.

To transport materials, Muselier used the strength of prisoners, forcing them to carry each rock, sandbag, to walk on the newly opened road and the sharp stumps and bumpy rocks. Muslier requisitioned a master builder specializing in the construction of temples and houses in the area to direct the workers to build a small temple. In late 1902, the temple was completed. This is recorded in a stele at Vi Thuy pagoda (Son Tay town).

In 1942, the French government in Indochina sent a team to survey, measure and draw the design to build the resort at an altitude of over 1,000m. This group saw that the temple built by the envoy Muselier 40 years ago was now just a pile of wood and stone. The Shanxi provincial government did not rebuild the temple, but rebuilt the road that Muslier had opened.

Today’s Upper Temple

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The altar to worship Saint Tan Son Tinh in the Upper Temple. (Photo: Internet)

In 1993, Ba Vi National Park built a small temple on the old ruins. Back against the cliff, face to the south. The main hall has a diaphragm with four great characters Tan Linh Linh Than. The project was designed by architect Hoang Dao Kinh.

In 2008, the Upper, Middle and Lower Temples were recognized by the State as a national cultural relic. In 2010, the 1,000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi, the People’s Committee of Hanoi built a new temple with a larger scale: there is a house of worship, a house for rituals, rituals, and gold amalgamation. The two outer columns have couplets:

Tan mountain is like the sky, three famous peaks from thousands of years ago

Da River minus the evil waterfall, a bright stream to the future

Today, Thuong Temple is not only a spiritual address but also a famous tourist destination of the country.

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