But Thap Pagoda – Brush Tower Pagoda

The But Thap Pagoda is situated on the dike of the Duong River, Thuan Thanh District, Bac Ninh Province. The pagoda was built in the 17th century, during the late Le dynasty. Its founder was Chinese Buddhist Priest Zhus Zhus, who died in 1644. Queen Mother Trinh Thi Ngoc Truc requested that Lord Trinh Trang enlarge the pagoda in 1646.

The pagoda was built according to "Noi Cong Ngoai Quoc" architectural style, and includes 10 buildings spread over 100 meters, from the three-entrance gate to the bell-tower and back house. Two 13-m towers, Ton Duc and Bao Nghiem, are made of white rock, making the pagoda seem higher, more majestic and peaceful. Some remains of the 17th century are kept here such as statues, valuable donations, Nine-Story Lotus Tower, Tuyet Son statue, Bao Nghiem tower, and Xa Ly tomb. The last renovations of the structure were carried out in 1992 and sponsored by the German Government.

Inside the temple are about 50 statues of different sizes including the Triad Buddha, Manjusri (Van Thu) on a blue lion and Samantabhadra (Pho Hien) on a white elephant. The most remarkable is a thousand-handed and thousand-eyed Guanyin.

This statue is 2.5 meters tall, excluding its pedestal, with 11 heads and 14 layers of 789 arms with an eye in each palm forming a circle 2.2 m in diameter. Forty-two more arms encircle the waist, making various gestures of the hands. The goddess is sitting on a lotus lifted up by dragons.

Passing through a small stone bridge visitor reach Am Tich Duc (accumulated good deeds sanctum), then the Middle Hall (nha trung), followed by the Worship Palace (phu tho) where statues of Queen Trinh Thi Ngoc Truc and her children can be found.

Behind the backyard garden stand two stone stupas, both some 20 meters tall, used to contain remains of priest Chuyet Chuyet and the pagoda's second priest Minh Hanh.

The name But Thap was given by King Tu Duc in 1876 when, on a field research tour of Kinh Bac, or the former northern citadel, he saw the stone stupa shaped like a pen at this pagoda. The literary name of the stupa was Bao Nghiem, which means to pay a debt of gratitude to the master for his strict teaching.

As I organized this photo outing I was not sure if it was a good idea to come here but the seren and tranquil surrounding away from trafic in the countryside proved to be a wonderful choice. Additionally we had great weather and I could play around with some Fujichrome Velvia Film of which I like the saturated colors very much. Due to the bright weather and some nice clouds in the sky I was relieved to find my ND filter in my bag. This made my day.

I did as well bring one of my old medium format cameras and as well some black and white film which I still have to develop but didn't find the time up to now. This will be for another posting.

You can find more images here.