UNESCO celebration held for 200th birthday of famed Vietnamese poet

July 01, 2022 - 15:00

A celebration for Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Đình Chiểu’s 200th birthday has been held in the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre.

BẾN TRE — A celebration for Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Đình Chiểu’s 200th birthday has been held in the Mekong Delta province of Bến Tre.

Taking place at the Special National Monument of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu’s Tomb and Memorial Site in An Đức Commune, Ba Tri District, on Thursday night, the celebration was held in conjunction with UNESCO.   

At the UNESCO’s 41st General Assembly in Paris last November, 193 members approved a resolution to celebrate the Vietnamese poet’s birthday this year.

Opening the celebration, Chairman of the Bến Tre Province's People's Committee Trần Ngọc Tam reviewed the life and career of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu.

“His patriotic spirit, his determination to overcome difficulties and hardships inspired the revolutionary uprising Đồng Khởi in 1960, which played an important role in national liberation,” he said.

President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc delivers a speech at the celebration of Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Đình Chiểu’s 200th birth anniversary in Bến Tre Province on Thursday night. —VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất 

Speaking at the celebration, President Nguyễn Xuân Phúc said that Bến Tre Province has a close attachment with Nguyễn Đình Chiểu.

Over the years, the provincial Party Committee and the people of Bến Tre have carried out many meaningful works to preserve and promote the cultural heritage left by Chiểu.

“In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the birth of the great national poet and cultural icon Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, we would like to express our pride, honouring his significant contributions to Vietnamese culture as well as to humanity,” President Phúc said.

The President said the province should pay attention to applying modern information technology to research, teach and promote the works by Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and digitalise his writings.

Also, on Thursday, UNESCO Chief Representative in Việt Nam Christian Manhart handed over a UNESCO Resolution honouring Nguyễn Đình Chiểu, who is on the 2022-23 list of cultural figures and events of international significance.

According to Manhart, Chiểu’s philosophies of peace, human love, and tolerance are in line with the philosophy and goals of UNESCO.

“He was also an enthusiastic teacher who devoted his life to spreading knowledge to others. This is also one of UNESCO’s missions – education,” said Manhart.

The UNESCO Representative in Việt Nam said the poet was an inspiration not only for Vietnamese people but also for all mankind because he gained success despite being blind.

“He symbolises hope for the disadvantaged,” he added.

UNESCO Chief Representative in Việt Nam Christian Manhart (right) gives the UNESCO Resolution honouring Nguyễn Đình Chiểu. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất 

So far, UNESCO has commemorated the birth anniversaries of five Vietnamese historical figures: President Hồ Chí Minh, educator Chu Văn An, and poets Nguyễn Du, Nguyễn Trãi and Nguyễn Đình Chiểu.

Art performance portrays his life

Nguyễn Đình Chiểu’s 200th birthday was celebrated with a special art performance depicting his life and career.

Directed by Lê Quý Dương, the performance Đạo Sáng Mãi Giữa Đời (Morality Shines The Life) featured a repertoire presenting both the southern cultural identity and contemporary creativity.  

Artists stage an art performance depicting the life and career of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu at a celebration of his 200th birth anniversary in Bến Tre Province on Thursday night. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất 

“Within this 45-minute performance, I want to portrait the poet as a great cultural icon representing mankind, but at the same time, someone who is straightforward and ordinary, close to his people and country, a devoted teacher, a whole-hearted doctor, and a lifelong patriot who aspired for independence, freedom and peace,” Dương said.

The performance also presented a collection of áo dài (a traditional Vietnamese dress) by designer Yến Nhi.

The designer said that she got inspiration from the illustrations of the famous 19-century epic poem Lục Vân Tiên (The Tale of Lục Vân Tiên) by Chiểu and published by the French School of Asian Studies.

Models wear áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) inspired from the epic poem Lục Vân Tiên (The Tale of Lục Vân Tiên) by Nguyễn Đình Chiểu. — VNS Photo Minh Thu

On June 29, an international workshop was held in Bến Tre to discuss the life and career of Chiểu. Cultural researchers from France, the US, Japan, India, China, and Russia participated.

Nguyễn Đình Chiểu (1822-1888) was born in Bình Dương District, Gia Định Province (now District 1, HCM City). He was a great poet, enthusiastic teacher and a doctor in the South of Việt Nam in the second half of the 19th century, known for his nationalist and anti-colonial writings against the French.

He is best known for his prominent epic Lục Vân Tiên, written in nôm (the old script) in the 1850s, which been translated into many different languages, including French, English and Japanese. — VNS