40-year Hue artifact preservation efforts pay off

The Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, since it was founded four decades ago, has preserved and rehabilitated hundreds of ancient relics in the Complex of Hue Monuments and revived some of the most important royal festivals of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945).

Among the relics were Ngo Mon (Noon Gate), Hien Lam Pavilion, The Mieu Temple, Duyet Thi Duong Theatre, and Dien Tho, Thai Hoa, and Kien Trung ancient relic sites.

Established in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue on June 10, 1982, the centre celebrated its 40th anniversary earlier this month, marking another milestone in its efforts to revive items from the last of the feudal dynasties in Vietnam.

Tran Dinh Thanh, Deputy Director of the Cultural Heritage Department at the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the centre is considered a model conservation and restoration entity in Vietnam.

The capital of central Thua Thien-Hue province, also widely known as a destination with five heritages, is a renowned brand in Vietnam’s tourism industry and a top choice of domestic and foreign visitors, he remarked at the anniversary celebration.

The official asked the centre to continue diversifying services at the complex and applying digital technology to promote tourism, adding it needs to preserve and restore the complex to 2030, with a vision towards 2050.

Director of the centre Hoang Viet Trung stated Hue cultural heritages are no longer in danger of being lost and restoration projects are shedding light on the original appearance of the brilliant artifacts.

At present, Hue is the proud home to five UNESCO-recognised world cultural heritages, he continued, namely the Complex of Hue Monuments (a world heritage site), “Nha Nhac” or Vietnamese court music (Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity), the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty (part of the Memory of the World Programme), the imperial archives of the Nguyen Dynasty (part of the Memory of the World Programme), and the Literature on Hue Royal Architecture (part of Documentary Heritage in the Memory of the World Programme).

With a 40-year history, the centre has grown into one of the top heritage preservation entities in the country, Trung said.

The centre now has established cooperation ties with over 30 international organisations and dozens of institutes, universities, and sectors of Vietnam to conduct studies and undertake heritage conservation, cultural exchange and revive architectural landscapes.

The centre is currently running an exhibition showcasing 32 replicas of gold seals from the Nguyen Dynasty held at the Ngo Mon inside the Hue Imperial Citadel. The event comes just ahead of the Hue Festival 2022, one of the province’s most anticipated festivals of the year.

All the 32 gilded ceramic replicas are crafted based on gold seals preserved at the Vietnam History Museum.

The copies of the gold seals were made by celebrated artisan Tran Do from the renowned Bat Trang pottery village in Hanoi.

The Nguyen was the final Vietnamese dynasty which ruled the country from 1802 to 1945. The exhibition reproduces part of the dynasty's history from various stories of characters and events associated with the Hue Imperial City, according to organisers.

During its 143-year rule, more than 100 seals cast in gold, silver, or crafted from precious gems were created including 12 of the Gia Long reign (1802-1820), 15 of Minh Mang (1820-1840), 10 of Thieu Tri (1841-1847), 15 of Tu Duc (1848-1883), one of Kien Phuc (1884) and Ham Nghi (1885) each, five of Dong Khanh (1885-1888), 10 of Thanh Thai (1889-1907), 12 of Khai Dinh (1916-1924) and eight of Bao Dai (1925-1945).

The landmark exhibition of critical Vietnamese cultural heritage is scheduled to last through to the end of this year.

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