Thien Dinh monastery, (towards) Hanoi, Bac-Ninh, VN

Raw data

The text actually reads Dinh Thien but the modern scholar thinks that this is a scribal error. If this analysis is correct the monastery's name is Thien Dinh and is located in at Khuong Village, Sieu Loai District, now Thuan Thanh, Ha Bac. The text records a Zen master living there by the name of Thien Hoi. He subsequently moved to Kien So monastery and died in 900 CE. There are fragmentary records of the Thien Dinh monastery in later Vietnamese "Transmission of the Lamp" literature, but no firm dates.

See Cuong Tu Nguyen, Zen in Medieval Vietnam: A Study and Translation of the Thien Uyen Tap Anh (Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997), 109, 365-366.
Src: Vietnam
Input by: sgordon, Dec 21, 2009

Dinh-Thuyen monastery, in the village of Loai-Sieu, Bac-Ninh province, N. Vietnam. Mahayana. Active 820 AD and onwards. Active in 900 AD.
Src: Thich Thien-An (1975:62-63)
Input by: tmciolek, 22 Dec 2009

Tien Dinh or Dinh Thien temple, which was also called a Phap Van temple - tmciolek.] was situated at Van Giap Village, Thuong Phuc Prefecture, Ha Dong Province. […] " (CUONG TU Nguyen 1997:365 and
[…] a pagoda which is among the earliest temples of our country. Built in the beginning of the third century, the temple was located in centre of the ancient capital Luy Lau, now part of Khuong Tu hamlet, Thanh Khuong village, Thuan Thanh district, Ha Bac province, 30 km from Ha Noi. It is now the Dau pagoda or Phap Van Temple, which bore the name of Co Chau in the Ly Dynasty, Thien Dinh in the Tran and Dien Ung in the Le.
During the early centuries of the Christian era, the Dau pagoda already witnessed the development of a prosperous commercial area around the crossing of the main roads of olden times, whose trace is now no more than the ruin of Luy Lau lying on the Thuan Thanh crossroads (Ha Bac), joining the two highways: One northward to Dong Trieu-Pha Lai, the other Southward to Khoai Chau-Hai Hung.

[…The] Hoa Phong tower […] Established by Ch'an Master Phap Hien in the late 6th century to preserve the Buddhish relics (were they the relics of Lord Buddha, or relics of Buddhist holy men? - tmciolek), it originally had 9 storeys, but through the destruction of time, now only 3 storeys remain, with 17m in height, The base storey is of square shape of 7m each side, with thick walls opening 4 vaulted doors. The two main doors facing the east and the other two facing west all have flights of stairs in front. On either side of each flight are two stone squirrels lying in the crawling position-a style very similar to the ancient sculptural of Champa in the 13th-14th centuries and the animal symbolic sculpture in the architecture of imperial tombs in the Tuy period. The Hoa Phong tower was renovated in 1737 in the Le period. Inside the tower, there are the great bell cast in the Canh Thinh reign and the big bronze gong cast in 1837 under the reign of King Minh Mang.

"Luy Lau [or Lien Lau - tmc] was the center of Giao Chi, in the center of the Red River Delta which is now Thuan Thanh district, Ha Bac province in Vietnam. From here, there were many water routes and land routes leading to Pengcheng and Luoyang. From early on, Indian and Central Asian traders came here to trade and then monks came to practice or spread Buddhism.
The foundation of the Buddhist center in Luy Lau was probably influenced by Mahayana Buddhism starting from the second century B.C.
In a word, in the early centuries of the Christian era, Buddhism was very popular and flourishing in Luy Lau owing to its important geographical, economic, and political position at that time. Luy Lau was one of the three ancient towns (Co Loa, Long Bien, Luy Lau) of Vietnam at that time. It lay on the banks of the Dau River, five kilometers from the Duong River. In Luy Lau, people grew mulberry trees to raise silkworm, producing silk and cloth. Many postal and water routes ran across Luy Lau. For example: The land route to Pha Lai, Dong Trieu, Quang Ninh and then to the Vietnamese Chinese border (currently Route 18 in Vietnam) to the water route running from the Dau River through the Duong River, the Red River and to the China Sea or the one through the Luc Dau River, the Thai Binh River and to the South China Sea. Luy Lau’s advantageous position made it a busy economic center."
Src: Nguyen Tai Thu (2009)

Phap-Van monastery/pagoda, Ha-Dong province, N. Vietnam, VN. Mahayana. Was active in 580 AD onwards. Src: Thich Thien-An (1975:33)
Phap Van, Dieu Ung or Co Chau, is located in Thanh Khuong commune, Thuan Thanh district, the northern province of Bac Ninh.
Input by: tmciolek, 20 Feb 2009

Khuong Tu, Vietnam Page
Other names: Khương Tự
World:Vietnam:Tinh)) ((Ha Bac
Lat 21.0333 Long 106.0500

THE ANCIENT CAPITAL OF Luy Lau. During the Han dynasty "there were about 20 pagodas with at least 15 translations of Buddhist Text Books and 500 monks at Luy Lau centre." Thich Minh Chau (1994)
Input by: tmc, Apr 14, 2009

"Dau Pagoda, also known as Dien Ung, is situated in Dau, Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province. Built in the 3rd century, Dau Pagoda is the oldest pagoda in Vietnam. In the beginning, the pagoda was a Buddhist center well known throughout the country and abroad. At the end of the 4th century, Ch’an Master Vinitaruci gave lectures, and the first Vietnamese Buddhist doctrine was produced there. King Mac Dinh Chi enlarged the pagoda in the 14th century, and the pagoda underwent several renovations during the following centuries."
Input by: tmciolek, Apr 15, 2009

[Page 365, Notes to pages 108-109, Note #35]
"According to Tran Van Giap, it is the Dinh Thien temple, which was another name for Phap Van Temple. It is, however, not the same with Phap Van temple, which was situated at Van Giap Village, Thuong Phuc Prefecture, Ha Dong Province. Before Tran dynasty (1224-1400), it was called Thien Dinh Temple. […] Le Manh That suggests that "Dinh Thien" might have been a scribal error for the correct form "Thien Dinh", which denotes Thien Dinh temple at Khuong Tu Village, Sieu Loai District, now Thuan Thanh, Ha Bac. That might be correct, since it is written in the Dai Nam Nhat Thong Chi (28:73), "Bac Ninh Province, section on Temples and Monasteries": "The Dien Ung Temple at Khuong Tu Village, Sieu Loai District houses for statuses of Phap Van, Phap Vu, Phap Loi, and Phap Dien which have some supernatural traces about them […]"" (CUONG TU Nguyen 1997:365 and
Input by tmciolek: 4 Mar 2010.

Final data (and their sources)

Last updated: 21 Jul 2014

Lat/Long coordinates' accuracy:
The monastery in question is assumed to be situated actually no farther than 20 km from the point defined by the coordinates below.

Location of Thien Dinh monastery, VN.

General location of the Thien Dinh monastery, VN.
lat=21.0333 long=106.0500
Mapping & images: Falling Rain Genomics (, 2009.

Google Map link:,%20VN)&ll=21.0333,106.0500&spn=05.0,05.0&t=k&hl=en

Final data - explanatory notes

1. Monastery's name

2. Monastery's modern country & province

  • Vietnam: Bac Ninh

3. Monastery's alternative/historical names

4. Monastery's lat/long coordinates

5. Other known nearby Buddhist monasteries

  • [missing data]

6. Modern name of the known nearest city, town, or village

7. The settlement's alternative/historical names

8. The settlement's coordinates

9. Monastery's major Buddhist tradition

  • Mahayana

10. Monastery's Buddhist sub-tradition

11. Date-early

MBM chrono-tag 0233-66p - tmciolek 21 Jul 2014
0233-66p 0267-99c 0300-32c 0333-66c 0367-99c 0400-32c 0433-66c 0467-99c 0500-32c 0533-66c 0567-99c 0600-32c 0633-66c 0667-99c 0700-32c 0733-66c 0767-99c 0800-32c 0833-66c 0867-99c 0900-32c 0933-66c 0967-99c 1000-32c 1033-66c 1067-99c 1100-32c 1133-66c 1167-99c 1200=> dated-el

12. Date-intermediate

13. Date-late

  • 2000 CE - still in use

MBM chrono-tag 1200=> - tmciolek 21 Jul 2014

14. Details of contacts with other monasteries

  • A Zen master by the name of Thien Hoi, from Thien Ding monastery] subsequently moved to Kien So monastery - CUONG Tu Nguyen (1997: 109, 365-366)

15. Type of evidence regarding the monastery

  • archaeological, inscriptional, art historical

16. Additional notes

17. Corrections & addenda to this page were kindly provided by

  • [missing data]

end of page

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