Relics

Unique Viet well, Hoc stele

MONDAY, 03/08/2020 07:09:48

Many students and people in Cam Giang still keep the customs of drinking water taken from Viet well and burning incense in front of Hoc stele before taking an exam with a hope of passing it.


Viet well has been renovated by the local authorities

Not as famous as Thien Quang well and doctoral steles at Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) – Quoc Tu Giam (First National University) but Viet well and Hoc stele in Nghia Phu hamlet, Cam Vu commune, Cam Giang district, are also well known in the area.

Nowadays, many students and people in Cam Giang still keep the customs of drinking water taken from Viet well and burning incense in front of Hoc stele before taking an exam with a hope of passing it.

Viet well and Hoc stele are located in Ao Ca field in Dinh sub-hamlet, Nghia Phu hamlet.

In ancient times, Nghia Phu hamlet had four sub-hamlets of Dinh, Chem, Ben, and Cau Thay. Elderly people in the village often tell their descendants that in the old days, there were twins Hoc and Viet who were both smart and good at learning in Dinh sub-hamlet. They also had the merit of teaching local people.

No one knows the years of birth and death of the brothers except that about 60 m from Viet well is Hoc stele.

According to the book Lich Su – Van Hoa Lang Nghia Phu (History and Culture of Nghia Phu Village) published in 2017 by the provincial Museum, Hoc stele is 1 m high with a 35 cm long and 28 cm wide bottom.

The stele records the court's posthumous honoring of the brothers. Hoc was posthumously honored as Minh Thong Cong Pho Hoanh Bac Tien Sinh, which means a smart and learned person. Viet was posthumously honored as Doan Phuong Giai Chinh Cu Pham Tien Sinh, which means a decent man of great learning.

The stele was created in the 2nd month of the 7th Thieu Tri year (1847). In front of the stele house is an altar and an incense burner made of stone.

No one knows whether the remains in front of Hoc stele are those of either of them or not except that Viet well and Hoc stele have become cultural and spiritual places worshipped and incensed by many people.

Living next to Viet well and Hoc stele, Nguyen The Thuong (72 years old) said not only people in the commune but students from surrounding ones like Cam Hoang, Cam Van, and Dinh Son also came there to ask for water to drink and burn incense.
 

Hoc stele records the court's posthumous honoring of the two brothers

The ancient Nghia Phu village was the birthplace of many people who passed exams, became mandarins, and brought blessings to people.

Through the reigns of Ly, Tran, Ho, Le, Mac, and Nguyen, up to five Nghia Phu villagers passed major examinations.

Apart from dignitaries like Hanh Khien (Deputy Prime Minister), Te Tuong (Prime Minister), Thuong Thu (Minister), etc., there were cu nhan and tu tai (those passing prefectural examinations), students of Quoc Tu Giam, chiefs of phu (an administrative unit more important than a district in the old days) and districts, teachers, and physicians in any time.

Among the elites of Nghia Phu hamlet, the most famous ones are Great Physician - Zen Master Tue Tinh and Dr. Nguyen Danh Nho.

Aside from previous materials about Great Physician - Zen Master Tue Tinh, the Relic Management Board of Cam Giang district has recently provided many more precious materials about the life and career of Dr. Nguyen Danh Nho.

Dr. Nguyen Danh Nho (1638 – 1699) was born in Nguyen Danh family in Nghia Phu village. There remains a stele with inscriptions compiled by him in 1690 to record his biography at the worshipping house of Nguyen Danh family there.

According to the inscriptions, at the age of 20, he took exams and passed the third round of the prefectural examination.

After many examinations, he became a doctor at the age of 33, was trusted and assigned many heavy responsibilities by the court, and made many merits like frankly dissuading the court, contributing to controlling thieves and robbers and fighting the enemy.

He was sent to China as the chief envoy in 1690 and returned in 1692.

According to historical books, upon arrival in China, Dr. Nguyen Danh Nho visited Tue Tinh's tomb, copied and brought home its epitaph.

At present, Dr. Nguyen Danh Nho is being worshipped in the central compartment of the front chamber of Bia temple.

Being able to keep legacies associated with the traditional fondness for learning and talent, so Nghia Phu people have paid attention to renovating and preserving the relics.

At the end of 2019, residents of Dinh sub-hamlet continued to donate money to dredge and rebuild Viet well and build a yard in front of Hoc stele.

Over time, the well has been narrowed to only about 14 m in diameter. Around the well are stone chairs for people to sit and get some fresh air.

Hoc stele house is situated in a clean and beautiful yard covering an area of about 30 m2 and paved with red bricks.

VIET QUYNH

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