Bac Giang: Bo Da pagoda’s woodblocks recognised as national treasure
Update: Apr 03, 2018
Carved woodblocks bearing the Sutras of Zen Buddhism at Bo Da Pagoda in Viet Yen district, the northern province of Bac Giang were named national treasures at a ceremony held in the locality on March 31.

The pagoda, which is a centre of Lam Te Buddhism and had a major role in Buddhism’s development in Viet Nam, is home to 1,953 Sutra woodblocks. 

In the 18th century, monks at the pagoda carved Buddhist Sutras on thi wood (decandrous perssimmom) that is both light and pliable, making it ideal for carving, preserve the texts so that they could be used to teach Buddhism.

According to Venerable Tu Tuc Vinh, head of Bo Da Pagoda, the woodblocks cover 24 sets of Buddhist scriptures in Nom (ancient Vietnamese ideographic script) and Sanskrit. 

The same day, Bo Da Pagoda festival, a national intangible cultural heritage, began in the locality and will last until April 3.

The pagoda, also known as Quan Am (Goddess of Mercy), lies at the foot of a pine-covered hill, surrounded by earthen walls with mountains and rivers in the distance.

The pagoda was built in the 11th century under the Ly dynasty, the golden age of Buddhism in Viet Nam, but was badly damaged during wars in subsequent centuries. It was not until the revival of the Le dynasty under King Le Du Tong that the pagoda was reconstructed.

Bo Da is unique for its architecture, while it appears to be a closed complex from the outside, the pagoda’s inside has hundreds of compartments that open into one another. The pagoda provides visitors with a sacred, secluded refuge from the world.

Viet Yen district will work with relevant authorities to preserve and promote the values of Bo Da Pagoda, particularly the Buddhist woodblocks. Vice Chairman of the district People’s Committee Nguyen Dai Luong said the district is planning to build a special zone to exhibit and protect the woodblocks and digitalise them using 3D scanning technologies.