Founded in the 1820s to house a statue that’s become the subject of a popular cult, this large compound faces Sam Mountain, on the same road as Tay An Pagoda.
Originally made of bamboo and leaves, the pagoda has been remade many times. The last reconstruction took place between 1972 and 1976, combining mid-20th century design with Vietnamese Buddhist decorative motifs. The statue itself is possibly a relic of the Oc-Eo culture, dating from the 6th century, and is also possibly that of a man – but don’t suggest that around one of the faithful.
According to one of several legends, the statue of Lady Xu used to stand at the summit of Sam Mountain. In the early 19th century Siamese troops invaded the area and, impressed with the statue, decided to take it back to Thailand. But as they carried the statue down the hill, it became heavier and heavier, and they were forced to abandon it by the side of the path.
One day some villagers who were cutting wood came upon the statue and decided to bring it back to their village in order to build a temple for it; but it weighed too much for them to budge. Suddenly, there appeared a girl who, possessed by a spirit, declared herself to be Lady Xu. She announced to them that nine virgins were to be brought and that they would be able to transport the statue down the mountainside. The virgins were then summoned and carried the statue down the slope, but when they reached the plain, it became too heavy and they had to set it down. The people concluded that the site where the virgins halted had been selected by Lady Xu for the temple construction and it’s here that the Temple of Lady Xu stands to this day.
Offerings of roast whole pigs are frequently made here, providing an interesting photo opportunity. The temple’s most important festival is held from the 23rd to the 26th day of the fourth lunar month, usually late May or early June. During this time, pilgrims flock here, sleeping on mats in the large rooms of the two-storey resthouse next to the temple.