Stone pillar, an exotic sculpture of Dam Pagoda

The one-thousand-year-old stone pillar at Dam Pagoda, one of the most delicate and epic sculptures in the history of Vietnamese fine arts, is a major attraction for visitors to Bac Ninh province.

Dam Pagoda, also called Canh Long Dong Khanh or Dai Lam Tu, was built in 1086 and construction was completed in 1094. It was a large Buddhist center and a great sightseeing place during the Ly dynasty (1009-1225).

Dam Pagoda originally had 12 sections which were then expanded to more than 100. Although most ancient architectural structures of the pagoda no longer exist, the remaining relics show the great charm of the old pagoda.

The most intact relic of Dam Pagoda is the stone pillar, which was recognized as a national treasure earlier this year. The five-meter pillar consists of two parts. The lower part is shaped in a 2m-high cube while the upper part has a cylindrical shape with a diameter of nearly 1.5m. The pillar features a pair of dragons with subtle and lively decorative lines. The dragons look majestic with a rising head on which a fire crest is shown. The scales on the dragons’ S letter-shaped body are carved with gentle curves. Each of the dragons’ feet has five toes with sharp toenails curled into a circle while their front feet carry glittering gemstones.

Locals in Bac Ninh light incense at the ancient stone pillar on the first and fifteenth day of every lunar month.

The gorgeous stone pillar is nearly one thousand years old.

The stone of the pillar is believed to come from a region other than Bac Ninh
as it is completely different from local stones.

The stone pillar features a pair of delicately carved dragons.

On the dragons’ S letter-shaped body are carved scales.

Another stone relic at Dam pagoda, proving the existence of a great architectural work from the Ly dynasty.

On the way to the stone pillar.

The stone pillar at Dam Pagoda, one of the most delicate and epic sculptures in the history of Vietnamese fine arts.

The pillar looks more delicate and harmonized with beautiful chrysanthemum patterns.

The pillar, which is imprinted with the original and characteristic features of fine arts in the Ly dynasty gives a deep insight into the fine arts at the time.

It is closely attached to the history of the formation and construction of the pagoda, and is a uniquely gorgeous sculpture left by the Ly dynasty to its descendants.

By Viet Cuong