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Khue Van Cac (Khu Văn Cc)

Vietnamese. Name of a pavilion located between the second and third courtyard in the Temple Of Literature in Hanoi (fig.). It is a landmark building and symbol of Hanoi, that is also depicted on the green banknotes with a value of 100,000 Dong. This Chinese-style two-storey pavilion was built in 1805 on four stone stilts, and doubles as an entrance gate and belfry, with a bronze bell that hangs from the ceiling of the wooden red-coloured structure above the gate, which has four circular windows, each inside a square frame, shapes that in Chinese iconography represent heaven and earth, respectively, akin to ancient fang kong qian coins (fig.) and to the cong (fig.), an ancient Chinese artifact in which the square shape represents the earth and the circular form heaven, while the spokes that attach the circle to the square frame are reminiscent of the Buddhist Wheel of Law as sometimes represented in Mahayana Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhism (fig.). On top of the elaborate roof is a flaming pearl, depicted in the form of a circle wreathed in flames, a symbol also often represented as a ball or wishing gem, known as chintamani (fig.), which symbolizes wisdom and spiritual wealth, i.e. Enlightenment, and has the power to multiply whatever it touches. On either side of the flaming pearl is a dragon (fig.). In Chinese mythology, the dragon was believed to chase the sun, and though the origin and exact meaning is unclear, the Chinese dragon is a also the symbol of the Emperor and of imperial power (fig.), and as such and plausible for this structure at the Temple of Literature, where the Imperial Examinations were once held, the dragons flanking the flaming pearl may symbolize the either the pursue of wisdom, or the Imperial protection of it, with the flame representing wisdom or Enlightenment and the dragons the (protective) might of the Emperor. While in Buddhism, the circular shape may additionally refer to the dhamma, as in the dhammachakka (fig.). In Chinese, the name for this pavilion, i.e. Ku Wn G (奎文閣), Ku (奎) refers to the 15th of the 28th constellations of Chinese astronomy, located in the region of the White Tiger of the West and associated with Thursday, Wn (文) means language, culture, writing, formal, and literary, and G (閣) refers to a (usually two-storied) pavilion. See also Four Symbols and Twenty-eight Lunar Mansions.