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Island Temple, Trấn Quốc Pagoda: 100 Dong (Vietnam 1991)-Article

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

This Vietnamese banknote represents the 1st denomination of the Second Dồng (Series 1988). The Second Dồng was introduced in 1985, replacing the First Dồng the same year. This was done in part to counter inflation and low currency value.

The Second Dồng can be divided into 5 separate series, currently spanning from 1985-2003. The Series 1988 (3rd Series), was preceded by banknotes introduced in 1985 (1st Series) and 1987 (2nd Series). Notable out of the 5 series, the current (polymer) 2003 Series is the most cohesive. As it features a unified design, unlike previous series.


The observe features an ornate frame and the Vietnamese Coat of Arms. The observe is notable for its multicolor underprint. Bring color to a note, which at first glance seems relatively dull. Off-set right of center is a large "100", surrounded by ornate guilloché patterning and framing below. Which overprinted by the text, "MỘT TRĂM ĐỒNG". This text translates to "One Hundred Dong, confirming it's value in text.

This is confirmed by additional "100"s, on the lower left and upper right corners. The lower left "100" rests above the footer's ornate frame. This frame is based on traditional Vietnamese stone and metal work. The section below the before mentioned multicolor pattern. It contains the note's print date "1991". Notably the 100 Dồng denomination was released later in the 1988 Series.

The second "100" is integrated into a "false" frame. The adjoining section is made of overlapping semicircle/ovoid patterns. The ink noticeably darkens where the pattern overlaps. Below this pattern are larger semi-circles, the header overprinted. It reads, "NGÂN HÀNG NHÀ NƯỚC VIỆT NAM". This Vietnamese text translates to the "Bank of Vietnam".

To the note's left, is the Vietnamese Coat of Arms. Below the coat of arms is a half gold and green underprint. The underprint features ornate framing, similar in style to the before mention upper and lower frame. To the right is the note's red inked serial number, "EF 4189523".

On close inspection underprint below features a grid, of fine overlapping waves. Tell tale of a barley-style guilloche pattern. While relatively simple in concept, this pattern is difficult to replicate. To extent of being virtually impossible, for a would-be counterfeiter to emulate. Without access to a guilloche lathe, used in security printing.


The reverse features an illustration Trấn Quốc, the oldest Buddhist temple in Hanoi. The illustration is well detailed and spans the majority of the reverse. The temple's prized pagoda and sacred Bodhi Tree can be seen. The ink is primary light tan, although shifts to olive green along the sides. Textured waves can be seen throughout the artwork.

The note's header reads, "NGÂN HÀNG NHÀ NƯỚC VIỆT NAM". As before mentioned, this translates to the "Bank of Vietnam". The border above alternates between overlapping triangles and semi-circles. Like the observe, the ink noticeably darkens where the pattern overlaps.

There are 2 patterns located on the upper left and right corners. The pattern is olive green and features a pair of leaf "wings". There is some recognizable guilloché patterning around the center "shield". The pattern at the right features a "100", signifying the note's value. This "100" is offset to the 11 o'clock position.

Moving to the lower right corner, there is a larger "100". It sits opposite to the text, "MỘT TRĂM ĐỒNG". It translates to "One Hundred Dong, confirming it's value in text. Below is an ornate light blue underprint, there's additional similar colored patterns. These patterns are located at the lower left corner and sides. The footer below features a traditional Vietnamese textile pattern.

The Island Pagoda

Trấn Quốc pagoda is the oldest Buddhist temple, in Hanoi. It rests a on a small island, near the southeastern shore of Hồ Tây (the West Lake). It was originally constructed during the reign of Emperor Lý Nam Đế (554-548 CE). Founded under the name Khai Quoc (National Founding temple, on the shores of Sông Hồng (the Red River).

The temple was relocated to it's current site, in 1615. Due to the encroachment of the river, onto the temple grounds. The temple was painstakingly dismantled and reconstructed piece by piece, on Kim Ngu (Golden Fish) island. A small causeway was constructed, linking the island to Hanoi.

In 1815, the temple underwent it's last major renovation. Which included repairs on the temple's main sanctuary, reception hall and the "Hall of the Dead". Notably the temple's pagoda contains the ashes of it's most revered monks. In addition, to prized relics dating from the temple's early history.

Buddhist symbolism can be found throughout the temple grounds. Such as carvings of eight-spoked wheels, representing the Noble Eightfold Path. Both live and stone-carved lotus flowers can be seen . Representing purity of an enlightened mind, body, and speech. Koi ponds can be found on the temple grounds, representing luck and good fortune.

In 1959, then Indian President Rajendra Prasad (1884-1963) presented the monks, with a cutting. This special cutting was taken from the sacred Bodhi Tree of Bodh Gaya. From which Buddha was said to to have achieved enlightenment.

Over the centuries, the temple's monks have taught both curious and devout followers. The fundamental ways of Buddhism and its symbolic teachings. Before the arrival of visitors, the monks pray to the temple's various shrines. At the main shrine, the visitors are met and presented with incense as offerings.

In accordance with Buddhist tradition, offering in odd numbers are presented. As the gods are said to favor odd numbers, with good luck. In addition to incense, other offering can be made. Such as small offerings of vegetarian food. Joss paper "banknotes" are burned to burned, to bring fortune to the ancestors, in the afterlife.

Additional Notes

  • The note's dimensions are: 120 × 60 mm or 4.72 x 2.36 in, small than a US Dollar.

  • All non-currency related photos were provided by Wikimedia, support Copyleft License.

  • The recommended method to persevere this note, are side opening sleeves cut to size.

  • All Second Dồng denominations below 200 Dồng have been demonetized.

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