The over 250-year-old Quan Am Pagoda (On Lang Assembly Hall) is one of the most famous and beautiful Chinese pagodas in Ho Chi Minh City. Highlights of the pagoda include delicate wood carvings including panels, parallel sentences, “bao lam”, dragon pillars, ornaments made from broken pieces of ceramic and ancient bells. A large number of deities, Gods in Chinese folk religion, Taoism and Buddhism.
General information about On Lang Assembly Hall
Location: 12 Lao Tu Street, Ward 11, District 5, Ho Chi Minh City.
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Opening hours: 6:15 – 17:00. On 1st and 15th days of lunar months: 5:00 – 17:30.
Total area: 1,800 m2.
Year of establishment: 1740.
Phone: +84 28 3855 3543.
Names of Quan Am Pagoda
Vietnamese: Chùa Quan Âm, Chùa Ôn Lăng, Hội Quán Ôn Lăng, Chùa Ông Lào.
English: Quan Am Pagoda, Guanyin Pagoda, On Lang Pagoda, On Lang Assembly Hall, Ong Lao Pagoda.
At the end of the 17th century, many Fujian people left China for Vietnam, then lived in De Ngan (Saigon Cholon now).
Chinese people from two cities Xuanzhou (府, Tuyền Châu) and Zhangzhou ( 漳州市, Chương Châu) donated and built an assembly hall (会馆, Hội Quán) called Nhi Phu in about 1730 in order to gather, help each other, meet the spiritual, religious and cultural needs of Chinese people.
Because of some disagreements, the people from Tuyen Chau City’s five districts including Tan Giang, Nam An, Hue An, Dong An, An Khe established On Lang Assembly Hall in 1740. On Lang is a place in Tuyen Chau, the assembly is also called On Lang Pagoda. The Sea Lady (Mazu) and many deities in Chinese folk religion are worshiped in the pagoda. Later, Guanyin is worshiped in the pagoda so that it is also called Guanyin Pagoda.
On 27th April 2004, On Lang Assembly was recognized as a National Architectural Site.
Antiques at On Lang Assembly Hall
On Lang Assembly houses many antiques such as drums, cast iron tripod cauldrons, incense burners during the reign of Guangxu Emperor (1871 – 1908). The big bell read Daoguang 1825 is one of the most impressive. In addition, the assembly hall has lots of horizontal carved wood panels and parallel sentences praising deities and Gods, expressing wishes of human beings.
Overview of Architecture
The land of the pagoda is crossed by Lao Tu Street. On one side of the street, they build a main gate, a small front yard and halls for worshiping area. The worshiping area of Quan Am Pagoda can be divided into front hall, left hall, right hall, back hall and a sky well. On the other side, they build a lake for releasing fishes.
Inspired by Chinese pagodas and temples built in the 19th century, On Lang Assembly Hall has red roofs, pillars, walls, signboards and ornaments. Carved wood pillars, panels and ornaments are abundant in Quan Am Pagoda. Beautiful ornaments covered with broken pieces of ceramic are the most impressive parts of the pagoda.
Main gate and front yard
On Lang Pagoda has a three-entrance gate, with four pillars and three roofs. Parallel sentences in Chinese are on the pillars. The roofs are covered with glazed green tiles and decorated with two dragons facing a pearl ornaments and floral ornaments.
A huge stone stela in the front yards.
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The red curved roof of the front hall is decorated with a large number of ornaments in different sizes. Concrete figurines of deities, generals, Chinese people, animals such as dragons and palaces are covered with colorful pieces of ceramic products.
A deity or general holds a blade and rides a strange animal, which is similar to a dragon on top of the roof of On Lang Assembly Hall.
Deities, fairies and sacred animals.
Doors and corridor
Red and golden colors dominate Quan Am Pagoda. Round red pillars and vertical wooden panels with golden Chinese characters, red lacquered golden gilt ornaments such as flower pots, dragons, floral ornaments make the front hall impressive.
A delicate carved wood panel read On Lang Assembly in Chinese.
One of two Qilin stone statues in front of the main entrance to the front hall.
The ceiling is decorated with hexagonal lanterns.
The pink carved wood lotus and red lacquered golden gilt flower pots are the most beautiful ornaments used to decorate the front corridor of the front hall.
Two big lanterns with Chinese characters are hung on the ceiling. The green and yellow wrought iron fence separate the front yard and the corridor.
The relief on the right wall depicts Nam Phương Tăng Trưởng Thiên Vương, Đông Phương Trì Quốc Thiên Vương .
The relief on the left wall depicts Bắc Phương Đa Văn Thiên Vương, Tây Phương Quảng Mục Thiên Vương.
The front hall has three entrances: left, right and main (middle) entrances and six doors. Six door Gods, who are responsible for protecting the pagoda from devils, are painted on six entrance doors. In the photo, two door Gods on the right doors are in orange and red costumes.
Two Menshen (door Gods) on two main entrance doors of the front hall.
Inside front hall
A huge incense burner with roof and a Pixiu in the front hall.
Beautiful wooden panels with golden Chinese characters in the front hall.
Dharmapala, Maitreya, Dharmapala are worshiped in the middle of front hall.
The reliefs on the left depict Văn Thù Bồ Tát (Manjushri), tigers, Phổ Hiền Bồ Tát (Samantabhadra).
The reliefs on the left depict A Di Đà Phật (Amitābha), dragons, Thế Chí Bồ Tát (Mahasthamaprapta).
Two ancient bells in the hall.
Dragon and cloud pillars are highlights of the front hall.
The Bà Thiên Hậu (Mazu) altar is the most splendid, with golden gilt wood carvings with tree, floral, leaf patterns. Golden dragons and Chinese characters are carved on two black wooden pillars. Mazu or Sea Lady is flanked by her two assistants: Thuận Phong Nhĩ (With-the-Wind Ear) and Thiên Lý Nhãn (Thousand Miles Eye). These three deities usually travel and fly above the sea, support anyone who calls her for help.
Phúc Đức Chính Thần (Ông Bổn) – God of the soil and ground who was a eunuch named Trinh Hoa during the rule of Yongle Emperor (1403-1424), traveled and helped overseas Chinese people .
Mẹ Sanh Nương Nương and 18 Mụ Bà, who are responsible for forming bodies of human beings and the bear on the earth, are worshiped on the right. Childless couples usually pray for a child here.
18 Mụ Bà on the right altar.
Reliefs on two walls depict deities flying around, playing chess, reading books, playing a flute.
The sky well separates the front hall and the back hall. There are other two sky well, one is between the left hall and the front hall, one is between the right hall and the front hall. The three sky wells form a U shape. Incense coils are hung on metal strings.
Guanyin altar is placed in the sky well. This is the most crowded area in Quan Am Pagoda, it is always overwhelmed with incense smoke. On the walls, there are two reliefs depicting Văn Thù Bồ Tát (Manjushri) and Phổ Hiền Bồ Tát (Samantabhadra). The orange dragons wrap around round red pillars.
The right hall looked from the main gate.
A relief on the right wall depicts Buddha, monks, deities and people.
Palace ornaments on the top of the wall.
Beautiful yellow flowers.
The curved eave of the roof is decorated with broken pieces of ceramic.
Cheng Huan – God of Hell and his two assistants: Võ Phán Quan and Văn Phán Quan.
Turtles in the lake.
Left hall, looked from the main gate.
Tiny flowers on the wall of the left hall.
Palaces, dragons, flowers on the wall of the left hall.
The relief on the left hall, flowering tree and bamboo trees.
Huê Quan Đại Đế, Tề Thiên Đại Thánh (Monkey King), Tử Vi Tinh Quân.
Đại Mẫu Nương Nương, Thiên Phụ Gia Gia.
Tam Bảo Phật Tổ, Phật Chuẩn Đề (Cundi), Siddhartha.
Mã Tướng Quân (Horse General), Thần Tài (God of Wealth).
Trương Tiên Thiên Sư, Thái Tuế, Thiên Cẩu.
Hoa Phấn Phu Nhân, Văn Xương Đế Quân.
Bao Công (Bắc Đế, Bao Zheng).
Quảng Trạch Tôn Vương (Guang Ze Zun Wang Quang).
Quan Âm (Guanyin)
Châu Xương, Quan Vũ (Guan Yu), Quan Bình.
Lake for releasing fishes
The lake for releasing fishes is rather spacious.
The beautiful green lake, dragon and fish fountains, reliefs on the wall behind the lake.
The relief depicts a golden dragon, carps, clouds, waves and tells some stories in China.
The relief depicts life on heaven.
The relief depicts life on heaven.
Activities at On Lang Assembly Hall
The big celebrations at Quan Am Pagoda include Guanyin celebrations on 19th June, 19th February and 19th November in the lunar calendar. Quan Am Pagoda is crowded on not only celebrations but also normal days. Visitors come to the pagoda, bring offerings and pray for wealth, health, children, luckiness, happiness, peace and calm. Offerings including incenses are sold on many stores on Lao Tu Street. Visitors usually offer deities and Gods flowers (daisies and lotus flowers), baozi in a round shape or a peach shape, bottles of cooking oil, fruits (apples, oranges, mandarins, custard apples, persimmons), joss papers, joss paper lotus flowers, paper houses, etc.
Offerings include fruits, baozi, cooking oil.
Joss papers and other paper items.
A store sells offerings and provides motorbike parking.