Heritage of poetry on Hue royal architecture gets world status
Update: May 25, 2016
The royal literature on Hue royal architecture has been honoured as documentary heritage at the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP)’s 7th General meeting, which took place in Hue city from May 18-21. 

The “Woodblocks of Phuc Giang School” (in Ha Tinh province) also got listed in the MOWCAP. 

The two heritages have been highly appreciated by MOWCAP and meet the criteria in the registry dossiers formed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). 

Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, said the poetry on the Hue royal architecture includes Chinese-language scripts in the form of poems, that were meticulously carved onto clusters of three wooden plates or wooden walls that were built during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). 

Especially, the “one poem and one painting” decoration style on the Hue royal architecture which was formed and developed during the Nguyen Dynasty and became the court’s rule in decorating royal architecture from then on. 

Under the Nguyen Dynasty, when planning a new royal building, depending on its scale, importance, style and function, the court’s most brilliant mandarins were ordered to select poems to submit to the King for consideration, adjustment and approval. 

From there, based on the design, artists chose the decoration style for calligraphers to perform before turning to the court’s most skilful wooden artisans to carve out or carve in (this style often comes with red-lacquered trimmed with gold), or inlaid with mother-of-pearl or with ivory on wooden panels before attaching them to the building. 

According to experts, researchers and managers, the royal literature on Hue royal architecture is a special decorative art, a precious heritage and its diversity in content and materials only exists in Viet Nam - like wood, stone, ceramic carving and the style of red-lacquer trimmed with gold. 

Except for some important relic sites decorated with a great deal of the royal literature destroyed in the war like the Thai To Temple, Can Chanh Palace, Can Thanh Palace and Khon Thai Palace, the number of existing scripted boxes (not including the number of poem boxes ceramically carved at Khai Dinh Mausoleum), comes to a total of 2742 poem boxes. 

Typically, Thai Hoa Palace in Hoang Thanh has 242 poem boxes painted in red-lacquer trimmed with gold; The Temple 679 boxes; Hung Temple 110; Trieu Temple 62. 

Mausoleums of Kings Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Dong Khanh and The Temple of Literature - New Poetry Institute, were also decorated with a large number of poem boxes painted with red-lacquer trimmed with gold. 

At the moment, the whole documentary system has been filmed, photographed, digitalised for storage in case of unexpected incidents occurring to the relic sites as well as limiting the use of original materials. 

The centre’s current challenge is the preservation of royal architectural buildings containing these documentary heritages because they have been exposed to strong climate conditions for the past 200 years.