Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda – Quận 5, Vietnam - Atlas Obscura
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Quận 5, Vietnam

Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda

One of the oldest temples in Ho Chi Minh City, dedicated to a deified Chinese military leader. 

The Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda was built by the Chaozhou Chinese population of Ho Chi Minh City sometime in the second half of the 19th century. One of the oldest temples in the city, it is dedicated to the deified Chinese military leader Quan Cong.

During the 1800s, the Chinese population of Vietnam built a number of temples worshiping Quan Cong, none more important than the Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda. Quan Cong (c. 198-249) was a military leader of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period of China. Not only was he a courageous and decisive military commander, he was also known as an honorable and loyal general who respected tradition and engaged in charitable acts.

Nghia An Hoi Quan is a fine example of Chinese religious architecture in Vietnam. Known for its elaborately gilded woodwork, intricate statues and other relics, the pagoda includes a main room, large front yard, and incense house. The main entrance is guarded by two stone “unicorns,” and a carved wooden boat hangs over the doorway.

Inside the main room is a statue of Quan Cong dressed in his dragon robe, flanked by his two loyal attendants: Quan Binh, his chief mandarin, and Chau Xuong, his chief general. One of the most famous statues in the temple is that of Quan Cong’s red horse. The wooden statue of his faithful steed is considered particularly holy to the temple’s devotees, who come to ring a bell around its neck before crawling under the horse to its opposite flank, an action believed to draw blessings from the warhorse.

Many more statues, small and large, of wood, stone, or ceramic, stand within the temple. Paintings and engravings depict Chinese legends and images of daily life and rural workers, and lanterns hang from the ceiling. Because of these artifacts and decorations, Nghia An Hoi Quan is more than just a shrine to Quan Cong: the temple also helps to bring Chinese culture and history to the descendants of the Chaozhou people who originally immigrated to Vietnam.

Know Before You Go

Nghia An Hoi Quan Pagoda is located at 678 Nguyen Trai Street in Cholon, within Ho Chi Minh City's Chinatown. The temple's main festival dedicated to Quan Cong takes place every year on the 13th day of the first lunar month.