Tay Phuong Pagoda is also known as Sung Phuc Tu, located on Thach Xa commune, Thach That district, Hanoi. Legend has it that the pagoda was built in Cao Bien times (865-873). By the seventeenth century (1657 – 1682), Tay Do Vuong Trinh Tac ordered to restore the pagoda and the three-entrance gate.
Stepping up over 200 laterite stone steps, with earth wall and garden at both sides it leads to the pagoda location. The building was arranged with a small gate outside with no three-entrance gate and steeple. It features three parts in ancient Chinese character “Tam”. Three surrounding walls were constructed with naked brick carved with decorative ying-yang circle windows in Buddhist philosophy. The front and behind temple complex consists of five compartments, four column lines; central temple complex consists of three compartments and four column lines. These temples are 1.6m distant from each other forming an inner yard wide enough for natural light to get through to create the feeling of illusion and solemn.
Yard centre lays a small lake which produces certain moisture degree in dry season to anti-crack the wooden structure and statues inside the building. Pagoda roof features match-overlapping style (four upper roofs and four lower roofs overlap each other, with a short distance between each layer called “roof neck” or “match neck”. Roof edge is decorated with lively animated dragon and mythological animals overlapping each other demonstrating by curves, which contributes to beauty of the building. Structural system of the pagoda features “girder stacking” style of the 17th century. In addition to beautiful architectural layout, Tay Phuong is also well known for a unique system of statues such as Tuyet Son, Ma Minh and 18 Arhats which are contemporary sculptural masterpieces of typical folk, humane philosophy, casual life and Dharma solemn features.
The pagoda can be seen as a one-in-millions architecture and excellent work of art of Vietnam ancient pagoda system. It gathers not only intellectual, elite, creativity of ancestor but also the harmonious combination of materials, texture, shape, light and climate making the pinnacle of architectural art.
Cleverly in choosing a quiet hill to construct the pagoda, architectural space is created from the foothills up to the pagoda gate. Simultaneously, the main temple is set into a separate area within a common layout and generates here another space. Located on an elevated position, the pagoda can be avoided from flooding.
The pagoda consists of three main pavilions parallel with each other to form character “Tam”, constructed into isolated areas. The pagoda and the yard open through each other. Moderate light goes over the windows making the pagoda a solemn place. The pagoda’s roof set is considered as a peach blossom with skillful art and standard proportion. Pagoda centre has three temple classes adjacent to each other. The roof is high and curved, two peaches link with each other to create a double height of 2.2 +2.2m producing adequate light for the building.
Wood and brick materials are taken use for the building creating special effects. Though the building has been added some charming feature, naked built brick lines and round window (symbolizes the Buddhist philosophy “sắc không”) bring to comparative effect. This brick layer plays the heatproof role for entire building while the small windows bring light inside, which increases the sacred of statue system. This is also the light handling method commonly applied by forefathers in this type of pagoda.