Among the 14 historical and cultural relics ranked by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Tra Vinh, Ong Pagoda (also known as Phuoc Minh Cung) is considered one of the most unique and impressive architectural works in this region.
General information about Ong Temple (Phuoc Minh Cung)
Ong Pagoda – Phuoc Minh Cung is located at 44 Dien Bien Phu Street, Ward 2, in the middle of Tra Vinh city. It takes around 3 hours from Ho Chi Minh City to get here, so the best way to visit the temple is booking a private car with a driver for safety drive and also admire the wonder view along the way.
For a long time now, the community of three ethnic groups Kinh – Chinese – Khmer in Tra Vinh has called Phuoc Minh Cung as Ong temple, because the main god worshiped is “Lord Guan” (Guan Yu) a figure of the Three Kingdoms period, famous for his justice, integrity, and wisdom and courage. After his death, he worships as a bodhisattva in Buddhist tradition and as a guardian deity in Chinese folk religion. Faced with the upheavals of the country, many generations of Chinese people migrated abroad to find a living, including some who came to Tra Vinh, bringing with them the belief of worshiping Lord Guan and praying for his support; both to preserve the original cultural.
According to the summary of the temple’s history, Ong temple was an artistic architectural work in the early years of the 20th century. But according to the remaining inscriptions, the temple was built in 1556. Up to now, the temple has undergone many restorations, the two most recent renovations being in 1991 and 2000.
Every year, Phuoc Minh Cung organizes holidays based on the lunar calendar as follows: January 13 celebrates Guan Ping (son of Guan Yu), March 16 celebrates Zhou Cang, June 24 celebrates Guan Yu… In particular, on the full moon day of the first lunar month, Phuoc Minh Cung holds the First Full Moon Festival – a joyful festival of the Chinese community, considered their second festival of the year. During these holidays, Ong temple serves free noodle soup served with roasted pork.
Architecture of the temple
The architectural space of the temple is in the traditional Chinese style with front halls, middle halls, and main halls created in the shape of three-cornered and two rows of left and right palaces facing in. The entire building is roofed with yin and yang tiles in many levels, the roof is glazed with turquoise enamel, and the rafters are made of precious wood.
Inside the interior, from the main door to altar … are all intricately carved and decorated according to traditional Chinese art such as “Two dragons flanking the moon”, the “Four sacred animals”, the “Eight Immortals”, “Peach Garden”…
The entire frame is supported by large, sturdy round and square columns. From the outside to the inside, every pillar is delicately carved with dragon, unicorn, flower, and leaf motifs. On the fence posts and fence gates there are also many lion statues.
The front hall of Ong temple can be said to be unique in terms of aesthetics with 3 entrances: Main gate, Left gate, Right gate. The main gate is slightly set back and is designed in a box style, inside on both sides there are 2 side doors forming “Five closed doors”.
The main door is made of wood with 4 wings decorated with images of two gods, Qin Shubao and Yuchi Gong. On both sides of the wall are two bas-reliefs of a “Green Dragon and a White Tiger”. In the middle above is the great relief panels with the theme of three brothers Liu Bei, Guan Gong and Zhang Fei; Four people (scholars, farmers, workers, merchants); Ancient Chinese legends with many blue and two phoenixes painting pearls. The pillars are all carved with sharp motifs of dragons, unicorns, flowers and leaves and small statues of Eight Immortals.
Entering the main door, visitors are immediately faced with the Jade Emperor altar. The shrine and altar are all intricately carved according to traditional Eastern art motifs, the most unique are the reliefs with the themes of Two Dragons fighting a Pearl… which look very ancient.
The middle hall is also decorated in a very harmonious aesthetic manner with horizontal panels, and reliefs. The most prominent is the Eight Immortals riding animals project.
The most splendid is the main hall, which consists of 3 altars, each of them decorated with dignity. The middle room worships Lord Guan with a gilded horizontal panel with the great phrase at the middle. The other sides worship the deities from Vietnamese mythology and folk religion.
Notably, there is a rattan statue of the Red Hare – Guan Yu’s precious horse, which is also a rare work of art.
In addition, behind the temple (back gate) there is also a flower garden with ornamental plants, rockeries, and miniature landscapes that are majestic and magnificent.
It can be said that Phuoc Minh Cung is an architectural work with high artistic value remaining in Tra Vinh. Those are the traditional cultural beauties of the Chinese community, be come things to do in Mekong Delta, very worthy for everyone to admire.
Useful information about Ong Temple (Phuoc Minh Cung)
- Best for: solo, family, student, pilgrims.
- Entrance: Free
- Tourist spots nearby: Ba Om pond, Museum of Khmer Ethnic Culture, Ang Pagoda, Ong Met Pagoda…