Deputy PM describes Nguyen Dynasty archives as priceless

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam has described all archives kept at the National Archives Centre IV, based in Da Lat city of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong, as priceless assets of the nation.

Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam (third, right) examines the preservation of woodblocks from the Nguyen Dynasty at the National Archives Centre IV on December 20
He made the remark while examining the preservation of woodblocks from the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) – part of the Memory of the World Register – in Lam Dong on December 20.

Dang Thanh Tung, Director of the State Records and Archives Department of Vietnam under the Ministry of Home Affairs, said the National Archives Centre IV, established in 2006, is tasked with managing the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty and other archives of the central and Central Highlands regions. It is currently preserving 34,619 woodblocks from the period.

The department has successfully applied modern techniques in cleaning up the woodblocks. It has also devised solutions to improve the preservation environment and archive restoration.

Pointing out difficulties in preserving the woodblocks, Tung said they are being kept in rooms designed for preserving paper, tape, and dish archives. Meanwhile, the volume of such items is substantial, which feature reverse carvings written in Han Nom (old Chinese-like characters of Vietnam), so it will take much time and effort to translate them.

Deputy PM Dam said that as these archives are priceless assets, it is necessary to step up publicising them for all to see.

He asked archivists to promptly digitalise the woodblocks and other archives. They should also pay attention to applying traditional preservation and restoration methods, aside from modern solutions, and invite experts and investors to the work.

The woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty helped to record official literature and history, as well as classical and historical books. They were included in the Memory of the World Register in 2009. 

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