Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a Taoist pagoda located at 73 Mai Thi Luu Street, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was built by the Chinese community in 1909. It is also known from 1984 by the new Chinese name Luck Sea Temple and as the Tortoise Pagoda. Vietnam travel tours

Built at the turn of the 20th Century by a community of Cantonese who migrated from Guangzhou province in Southwest China, this pagoda is a fine representation of Mahayanist branch of Buddhism that is practiced widely in Vietnam.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda

The Jade Emperor, heaven’s gatekeeper, watches over an incense-filled room while hidden chambers harbor woodcarvings and altars depicting scenes from Taoist and Buddhist myths. One hall houses the go-to deity if you are seeking fertility and the upstairs section represents heaven and features the goddess, Kwan Ying.

The entrance to the pagoda is usually very busy with monks and worshippers wandering all around the courtyard. Step inside to be greeted by an intricate carving of the Jade Emperor, the Taoist ruler of Heaven. Above him, you will find the roof is designed with just as much attention to detail. The temple is split into a number of rooms, which you can view in any order. You might also like to head to the roof terrace that overlooks the surrounding area and the pagoda itself. Travel to Vietnam

The Jade Emperor

The Jade Emperor

From the outside the pagoda is unassuming, with a small yet elaborate gate that blends into its surroundings. As you walk through the outside gate you enter into the pagoda’s shaded courtyard, which is a quiet oasis from the busy street outside. For the most part the courtyard is empty except for a couple of large bowls for incense and a few lion statues guarding the front door. An outer courtyard is filled with lotus ponds and bamboo bird cages, two fish and turtle pools, and Ho Phap temple with the names of the two colossal statues guarding the main gate of a pagoda.

In the main hall, the Emperor Jade Chua Ngoc Hoang or the ‘God of the Heavens’ reigns supreme. Aided by two assistants, the Emperor decides who can enter this higher realm. To the left of the main sanctuary is the highlight: the Hall of the 10 Hells. Lined with wooden panels that depict the 10 layers of hell, these carvings lay out exactly what is waiting for all you sinners. Each panel is topped with a representation of a King of Hell perusing a book that details the very evil acts perpetuated by the dead – they seemed to stare at us in a rather knowing fashion.

Outside the pagoda

Outside the pagoda

A rickety flight of steps in the chamber to the right of the main hall runs up to a balcony looking out over the pagoda’s elaborate roof. Set behind the balcony, a neon-haloed statue of Quan Am stands on an altar. Left out of the main hall, meanwhile, you are confronted by Kim Hua, to whom women pray for fertility; judging by the number of babies weighing down the female statues around her, her success rate is high. The Chief of Hell resides in the larger chamber behind Kim Hua’s niche. He does not look particularly demonic, though his attendants, in sinister black garb, are certainly equipped to administer the sorts of punishments depicted in the ten dark-wood reliefs on the walls before them. Women queue up at the seated effigy of the City God, who wears a hat inscribed with Chinese characters that announce ‘At one glance, money is given’. In a mesmerizing ritual, worshippers first put money into a box, then rub a piece of red paper against his hand before circling it around a candle flame.

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