Wednesday, July 17 2019

VietNamNews

Bringing an old boat back to life

Update: June, 30/2019 - 08:38

The new bat-winged yacht, made by Professor Nguyễn Việt and his colleagues to preserve the out-of-favour style. VNS Photo Trần Mai Hưởng

By Trần Mai Hưởng

On our visit to Phạm Huy Thông Antiques Museum in Quảng Yên Commune, the northern province of Quảng Ninh, the antique boats left the biggest impression on me. The museum is the brainchild of archaeologist Nguyễn Việt, director of the Southeast Asia Prehistoric Research Centre. Việt named the museum after Professor Phạm Huy Thông (1916-1988), who inspired much of his archaeological research.

 The museum stores thousands of valuable antiques like ceramics, stone objects, bronze drums and sets of swords dating back to the Hùng Vương era (258-7BC). One of the most interesting parts of the collection is a set of wooden pillars that were installed in the Bạch Đằng River as a trap to destroy the war vessels of Chinese invaders between 938 and 1288.

There are also 22 ancient wooden boats, which were taken from the bed of the Kinh Thày River in the northern province of Hải Dương between 2016 and 2018.

 “We have sent 12 samples of wood from the boats to Australia, Germany and France to determine their ages with the radiocarbon dating method (C14),” Việt told Việt Nam News. “Results show that six boats in the collection date back to the Đông Sơn civilisation (2,000-2,400 years ago); five date back between 800 and 1,200 years; and only one is 400 years old.”

 Six of the boats are displayed on land while the 16 others are submerged in water as a natural method of preservation.

Most of the ancient boats are kept underwater at the museum as a natural method of preservation.
In 2018, Việt teamed up with Australian professor Peter Bellwood to measure each boat. They drew sample designs and called for help from international researchers.

Scientific reports on the boats have been presented at professional workshops both domestically and abroad, and comprehensive articles on the research on Đông Sơn-era boats are being compiled.

“In the next few years, the research centre will preserve and restore these boats,” he said.

Việt’s passion for preserving the country’s unique boats extends beyond ancient artefacts. In 2017, he built a fully functioning sampan with bat-winged sails, a style which was popular in the north of Việt Nam few decades ago. The boat has fallen out of favour and fewer and fewer people these days know how to make them.

Việt said he and his colleagues had collected more than 400 hours of film and 800 images detailing the techniques and skills needed to make and sail the wooden boat.

“The boat will help preserve the art of making sampans as the final generation of boat makers gets old,” he said.

“I think the boat will aid research and honour the long history of the Vietnamese shipbuilding industry and the c

“My boat with bat-winged sails could be the last of its kind in the country,” he joked. VNS


 

GLOSSARY

On our visit to Phạm Huy Thông Antiques Museum in Quảng Yên Commune, the northern province of Quảng Ninh, the antique boats left the biggest impression on me.

Antique means very old.

An impression is a sense of something.

The museum is the brainchild of archaeologist Nguyễn Việt, director of the Southeast Asia Prehistoric Research Centre. Việt named the museum after Professor Phạm Huy Thông (1916-1988), who inspired much of his archaeological research.

A brainchild is an idea.

An archaeologist is someone who studies and knows a lot about ancient civilisations.

To inspire someone means to make them feel they want to go out into the world and do something positive.

The museum stores thousands of valuable antiques like ceramics, stone objects, bronze drums and sets of swords dating back to the Hùng Vương era (258-7BC). One of the most interesting parts of the collection is a set of wooden pillars that were installed in the Bạch Đằng River as a trap to destroy the war vessels of Chinese invaders between 938 and 1288.

Ceramics is pottery.

If pillars are installed, they are put in a place.

Invaders are people who come from one country to take over another country.

 “We have sent 12 samples of wood from the boats to Australia, Germany and France to determine their ages with the radiocarbon dating method (C14),” Việt told Việt Nam News.

A sample is a specimen that is an example of something.

Determine, in this case, means “work out”.

Radiocarbon is a scientific product that can be used to work out the age of something.

Six of the boats are displayed on land while the 16 others are submerged in water as a natural method of preservation.

Submerged means to be put underwater.

Preservation means keeping something in good condition.

Scientific reports on the boats have been presented at professional workshops both domestically and abroad, and comprehensive articles on the research on Đông Sơn-era boats are being compiled.

Domestically means inside the country. In other words, within Việt Nam.

“In the next few years, the research centre will preserve and restore these boats,” he said.

To restore a boat means to fix it up to make it what it was like at its best.

Việt’s passion for preserving the country’s unique boats extends beyond ancient artefacts.

A passion is something you love so much that you do not mind how much time or money you spend on it.

Artefacts are things that come from the past.

“The boat will help preserve the art of making sampans as the final generation of boat makers gets old,” he said.

You and your brothers and sisters are one generation. Your uncles and aunts and your parents are another generation, and so on.

“I think the boat will aid research and honour the long history of the Vietnamese shipbuilding industry and the seafaring tradition of Vietnamese fishermen.

Seafaring means to do with sailing boats out to sea.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

  1. Vietnamese fishermen have a seafaring tradition.
  2. Professor Peter Bellwood comes from a country called Austria.
  3. The Đông Sơn civilisation was around 20,000-24,000 years ago.
  4. The Kinh Thày River is in the northern province of Hải Dương.
  5. Professor Phạm Huy Thông passed away thirty-one years ago.

ANSWERS: 1. True; 2. False; 3. False; 4. True; 5. True.

 

 

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