UNESCO to celebrate Vietnamese poets’ birth, death anniversaries

Update: November, 25/2021 - 10:34


President of the UNESCO General Assembly Santiago Irazabal Mourao announces the decision celebrating the birth and death anniversaries of Vietnamese classical poets Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and Hồ Xuân Hương during the 41st General Conference in Paris on Tuesday. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

PARIS — Poets Nguyễn Đình Chiểu and Hồ Xuân Hương, alongside 58 other cultural icons, have been officially honoured by UNESCO, with their birth and death anniversaries to be commemorated between 2022 and 2023.

The decision was approved on Tuesday by the 41st UNESCO General Conference.

The anniversary will celebrate the 200th birthday of Nguyễn Đình Chiểu as well as Hồ Xuân Hương’s 250th birth and 200th death anniversaries.

The nomination is thanks to efforts of the People's Committee of Bến Tre and Nghệ An provinces, the Vietnam National Committee for UNESCO, the Department of Cultural Affairs and UNESCO, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, along with Vietnamese experts and scientists.

According to Lê Thị Hồng Vân, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to UNESCO, the approval shows that Vietnamese cultural values have been highly appreciated by the international community.

“This is the pride and joy not only of Nghệ An and Bến Tre provinces but also of the whole nation,” Vân said.

“This is also the recognition of the international community for the values ​​of the Vietnamese people in terms of culture, history, learning traditions as well as the ideology of freedom, equality, education and women's liberation which also reflect UNESCO’s efforts.”

Nguyễn Đình Chiểu (1822 – 1888), also known as teacher Chiểu, Mạnh Trạch, Trọng Phủ and Hối Trai, was born in Bình Dương district, Gia Định Province (a part of today’s HCM City).

Besides being a famous teacher and a poet with nationalist and anti-colonial writings against the French colonisation of Cochinchina, he is also a medical practitioner who devoted his life to the health of others.

His poetry is full of humanity, encouraging and praising people who are willing to do good deeds for the community. His main works are all composed in nôm (the old Chinese-based Vietnamese script).

His most famous work is Lục Vân Tiên's Nôm poetry collection, which contains many meanings of morality and good traditions of the nation. The work is widely recognised as one of the two greatest poems in Vietnamese history, besides Nguyễn Du’s Truyện Kiều (The Tale of Kiều).

Despite his blindness, he has always been a role model of overcoming life's difficulties and pursuing the ideal of lifelong learning which reflects UNESCO’s spirit.

Hồ Xuân Hương (1772-1822), was called “the Queen of Nôm Poetry” by the later generation poet Xuân Diệu, and is also one of the greatest poets in Vietnamese history.

As a female living in the time of feudalism, which discriminates against the rights of women, her poetic works also carry a lot of meaning about gender equality and fighting for the liberation of women in Việt Nam society.

Previously, there were five Vietnamese celebrities whose births and deaths were also honoured.

Those are Hồ Chí Minh’s 100th birthday (1990), Nguyễn Trãi’s 600th birthday (1980), Nguyễn Du’s 250th birthday (2015) and Chu Văn An’s 650th death anniversary (2019). VNS