An Xa temple, a rare terracotta tower of Taoism hinh anh 1An Xa Temple is surrounded by a clear blue lake with ancient longan trees on banks. (Source: Lao Dong newspaper)

An Xa Temple is located in An Vien commune, Tien Lu district, Hung Yen province.  It is an ancient temple built to worship the Jade Emperor and the gods. The temple is a perfect place for visitors to return to the history of Taoism and Buddhism in Vietnam. This makes for a unique combination of religious worship at one site, both Taoism and Buddhism are paid respect through the architecture and ancient relics at the site.

In particular, this is the only place in Vietnam where a terracotta tower of Taoism still exists.

Based on legends and stories of the elderly in the village and valuable ancient relics, An Xa temple was built in approximately the 16th century. It has been restored to its former grandeur on several occasions.

An Xa temple is a typical example of the transformation and integration between the Taoist temple and other temples. At present, in the system of temples and shrines of Vietnamese people, it is very rare to see a temple which worships the Jade Emperor God on such a large scale.

There are still a number of architectural works inside and outside the temple grounds associated with the characters worshiped at the Ha Temple and the Memory Temple located nearby. On both sides of the temple are two rows of Giai Vu houses. The two sides of Tam Quan are Mother Temple and Thien Quan Temple. Outside of the temple complex to the east are two communal houses called Vo and Can.

In particular, the An Xa temple is also one of the eight monuments called "Dau" in the former Phu Tien district (now two districts of Tien Lu and Phu Cu). Dau is a type of relic associated with Taoist cultural beliefs, found only in Hung Yen province.

An Xa temple, a rare terracotta tower of Taoism hinh anh 2The temple has great historical and cultural value. (Source: Lao Dong newspaper)

What makes An Xa temple unique compared to other architectural works is that the temple's inner sanctum is made entirely of monolithic green stone, creating a profound spiritual atmosphere at the place of worship.

The artistic value of An Xa temple is also expressed through a unique relic still preserved at the monument, a terracotta tower among similar to those in the northern region Vietnam.

The tower is divided into four parts including the pedestal, the base, the body (including 12 floors) and the top peak. The tower remains mostly intact and is made of terracotta material dating from King Le Trung Hung period.

An Xa temple, a rare terracotta tower of Taoism hinh anh 3Terracotta tower at An Xa temple. (Photo: Vietnamplus)

According to its profile as a National Treasure, the construction of terracotta tower at a religious site like An Xa temple is a unique cultural phenomenon in the history of temples in Vietnam. It specifically demonstrates the mutual influence between Taoism and Buddhism in the country.

Architecture meets religion here in such a unique way that the An Xa temple relic was ranked as a special national monument by the Prime Minister (according to Decision No. 2280/QD-TTg dated December 31, 2020).

Meanwhile, An Xa temple terracotta tower is recognized as a national treasure (according to Decision No. 2198/QD-TTg dated December 25, 2021 of the Prime Minister on recognition of national treasures)./.