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House of many treasures near the Mekong mouth

Update: December, 07/2013 - 12:00

A farmer who lives close to where the Mekong River enters the sea has many, old interesting things in his house.

Many are very valuable.

They have been handed down from one generation to the next in his family.

Tourists from other countries like to come and see them.

Shining light: One of the ancient lamps in Khanh's collection.
Shining light: One of the ancient lamps in Khanh's collection.

by Thoi Son

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has a unique museum which can be found in the home of a farmer who has spent the last 40 years collecting antiques.

Tran Cong Khanh's collection is tucked away in My Thanh An Commune in the provincial capital of Ben Tre where thousands of valuable items are placed in order, spread out across the large house.

The 58-year-old, well-known to most local residents, was inspired by and guided into the world of antiquities when he was a boy by a long standing family custom.

"To the best of my memory, my house was full of the ancient items which were bequeathed by my ancestors.

"My family settled in the royal capital city of Hue in 1820. Collecting antiques was considered my family's tradition.

"Yet, most of the items were sold or damaged, and lost during wartime,"Khanh said, adding that his desire to maintain his family's tradition came from that time.

Since 1968, Khanh began seeking out old items that he fancied. He read up about antiques and educated himself further through taking trips to museums in the area.

"At first, I met many difficulties in coming to know the ins and outs of assessing the value of ancient items because there was a lack of information about antiquities. Also, I couldn't even buy some of the items I particularly wanted because of the high prices," Khanh said.

The farmer worked to minimise all his expenses in order to reserve money for satisfying his compulsive hobby.

"To save money, I don't smoke and drink alcohol", Khanh said.

To Khanh, each item is invaluable.

"Many times, people tried to persuade me to sell some items. Yet, I collect, and restore the pieces not for re-sale. All of them have become an indispensable part of life that I cannot live without. And I want to bequeath them to my descendants. I hope they will also continue maintaining the family's tradition," the collector said.

"My collection is bigger than my ancestors', which brings fame to my family name, and makes me so proud and happy,"Khanh said.

In recent years his museum has become a cultural destination for tourists especially foreigners visiting the area.

Linh, a tour guide in the area, said that tourists mostly from France, Germany and Canada, always showed interest in Khanh's collection when they were taken there to peruse the antiquities.

Khanh enthusiastically guides the tourists through his museum.

He shows them the ancient bronze and ceramics, one by one, and then presents them with a locally made handcraft.

"I often give the tourists quat mo, fans made of spathe of areca trees, as souvenirs," Khanh said.

Currently, his sizable collection is composed of thousands of antique household utensils mostly dating from the early 19th century and 18th century, such as bowls, vases, cups, clock pendulums, pickled fish jars, and sets of incense-burners.

In addition to buying pieces, to enrich his collection, the collector also managed to glue and restore broken antiques in his house. Most of the items were made in Viet Nam, China or Japan. — VNS

GLOSSARY

The Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta has a unique museum which can be found in the home of a farmer who has spent the last 40 years collecting antiques.

If there is only one of something, it is unique.

Antiques are things like artwork and furniture that are valuable because they are both old and of high quality.

The 58-year-old, well-known to most local residents, was inspired by and guided into the world of antiquities when he was a boy by a long standing family custom.

When you are inspired you get a feeling of wanting to do something positive and you are also full of energy to do it.

A custom is something people in a community do to remind them of their values and that they belong to their community.

"To the best of my memory, my house was full of the ancient items which were bequeathed by my ancestors.

Your ancestors are your parents, grandparents, great grandparents, great great grandparents, and so on …

To bequeath the ancient items is to leave them after one's death

To Khanh, each item is invaluable.

If something is invaluable it is too special to have any value in money.

"And I want to bequeath them to my descendants."

Your descendants are your children, their children – your grandchildren, their children – your great grandchildren, and so on ….

Linh, a tour guide in the area, said that tourists mostly from France, Germany and Canada, always showed interest in Khanh's collection when they were taken there to peruse the antiquities.

To peruse means to look at something while relaxing at the same time.

He shows them the ancient bronze and ceramics, one by one and then presents them with a locally made handcraft.

Ceramics means pottery.

"I often give the tourists quat mo, fans made of spathe of areca trees, as souvenirs,"Khanh said.

A spathe is part of a plant that looks a bit like a leaf and holds a bunch of flowers.

WORKSHEET

Find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

1.        The number of years Tran Cong Khanh has spent collecting antiques.

2.        An island country off the coast of Asia where many of Tran Cong Khanh's antiques were made.

3.        The royal capital city in which Tran Cong Khanh's family settled in 1820.

4.        Tran Cong Khanh's wants his ________________ to have his antiques when he is dead and gone.

5.        What is Tran Cong Khanh's job?

 

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© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2013





























 1. Forty; 2. Japan; 3. Hue; 4 Descendants; 5. Farmer.

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