|A monk holds a wood printing block kept at Bổ Đà Pagoda, northern province of Bắc Giang. The stock of nearly 2,000 printing blocks will soon be digitalised for better preservation. Photo thegioidisan.vn|Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Local authorities in the northern province of Bắc Giang plan to build an exhibition room showcasing a valuable stock of nearly 2,000 wood printing blocks on Buddhist teachings.
They also plan to scan all the blocks to keep a digital record.
The stock, preserved in Bổ Đà Pagoda in Việt Yên District, has been recognised as National Treasure.
The exhibition room will allow tourists to get a closer look at the treasure. They can also practise printing from the soft copies of the blocks.
Bổ Đà Pagoda was built in the 11th century under the Lý Dynasty, the golden age of Buddhism in Việt Nam, but was badly damaged during wars in subsequent centuries.
It was not until the revival of the Lê Dynasty under King Lê Dụ Tông (1705-28) that the pagoda was reconstructed and more or less retained the shape it has today.
Because of the huge influence of Lâm Tế Buddhism, most of the pagoda’s famous carved woodblocks bear the Sutras of Zen Buddhism.
In the 18th century, the monks at the pagoda carved Buddhist Sutras on wood to print the texts so that they could be used for preaching Buddhism. More than 2,000 woodblocks containing the Sutras are arranged on eight bookcases.
The woodblocks are 44cm long, 22cm wide and 2.5cm thick. Some are larger, measuring 150cm long, 30cm wide and 2.5cm thick. If all the Sutra woodblocks were laid side by side, they would cover an area of 250sq.m.
All the blocks were carved on thị wood (decandrous perssimmom), which is both light and pliable - perfect for carving and moving - as well as durable. To this day, hardly any have rotted. — VNS