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Hue’s Eunuch (Thái Giám) Graveyard

7 kilometers from Hue’s Imperial Citadel and hidden in a wooded area full of green pine trees one will find Duong Xuan hill. Sitting on its top is the Tu Hieu pagoda which is among the most historic and beautiful pagodas in Hue. While visitors are charmed by its nostalgic and meditational grace, Tu Hieu is also known for its distinctive graveyard.

The pagoda had formerly been a hut where a monk named Nhat Dinh cared for his old mother. Nhat Dinh compromised his beliefs and risked his religious position by walking five kilometers everyday to buy meat (monks are forbidden to participate in anything that contributes to the death of any animal) to cook for his ill mother. The pagoda’s name "Tu Hieu" was chosen since “hieu” means a child’s devotion to their parents, a reference to the story of Nhat Dinh.

In the middle of nineteenth century, eunuchs under the Nguyen’s reign helped to construct the large pagoda, complete with a half-moon lake.

Finding eternal peace on the grounds of the Tu Hieu pagoda, surrounded by tall trees and the sound of running streams and splashing fish, the eunuchs requested that this be the site of their graveyard.  

Tu Hieu was built in the shape of a Chinese character (khau – mouth).  The pagoda’s main sanctuary is a place to worship Buddha while the back sanctuary honors the former head monks of the pagoda.

Fifty meters from the main sanctuary lies a 1000 square meter yard housing the graves of the King’s eunuchs. Surrounded by old, mossed walls, 3 rows of over 20 graves lie silently with each tombstone engraved their names and merits.

Enveloped in melancholy silence, the graveyard not only entombs the bodies of the eunuchs, but also honors the lives of those who built the pagoda and lived their entire lives within its sacred walls.

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