Thursday, August 13 2020


French archival display tells VN history

Update: September, 26/2018 - 10:00
Hallowed halls: Indochinese University, established in 1906. Today the building is the Việt Nam National University, 19 Lê Thánh Tông Street, Hà Nội.
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI — An exhibition of Vietnamese archival materials kicks off today in France, showing Vietnamese culture and history reflected through documents and images.

Entitled “Vietnamese Features through Archives”, the exhibition is of the cultural activities to promote Vietnamese culture abroad organised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

A highlight of the exhibition is mộc bản (wood blocks) and châu bản (official administrative papers), which Nguyễn Dynasty kings (1802-1945) used for administrative works and recording history.

The exhibition shows the organisation of the historic preservation office, how the Kings recruited staff to the office and the process of collecting documents to compile and print records.

Visitors will see a royal decree King Thành Thái issued in 1906 about selecting a husband for the princess, his daughter.

This is a rare chance for the public in France to see the once top-secret administrative documents carrying decisions and suggestions from the kings, according to Đặng Thanh Tùng, director of the State Records Management and Archives Department.

Script master: A display about Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660), father of Vietnamese language.

“The exhibition helps international visitors and overseas Vietnamese understand more about the history, society and culture of Việt Nam,” he said.

Both mộc bản and châu bản are recognised by the UN cultural agency UNESCO as the World Documentary Heritage in the Memory of the World Programme.

The wood blocks are part of a collection of nearly 35,000 dating from 1697 to 1945. They were used to print literary and historical documents. If the entire collection were printed, they would fill 152 books about history, geography, literature, legislation and education, according to the document submitted to UNESCO.

Apart from their historical value, the wood blocks are important in terms of their artistry and skill, as they mark the development of the wood block carving and printing profession in Việt Nam.

Another part of the exhibition is the French influences in Vietnamese culture. The public in France is expected to be interested in this aspect, as French features have become an integral part of Vietnamese culture, said Tùng.

The section features a collection of more than 130 documents, photos, maps and drawings depicting the daily, cultural and religious life of Hanoians; the Old Quarter, the ancient citadel of Hà Nội, Quốc Tử Giám — the first university in Việt Nam — and the Sword Lake and beautiful European and Asian-style buildings. The exhibition will run from September 26-29 in Versailles, France. — VNS


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