Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty(World Documentary Heritage)
the Nguyen Dynasty, due to the need to popularize social standards,
compulsory articles of law, Kings’ and Lords’ life and career and
historical events ... the Imperial Court allowed to carve many sets of
history books and literature work for delivering. During the past
activities, it helped to form a special type of record, which are the
woodblocks. These are the unique original records.
The Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty was assessed in the heritage records as follows:
34,555 plates of wood-blocks of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) helped
to record official literature and history as well as classic and
historical books. Their value is at once documentary and artistic. Their
technique furthermore represents a landmark in the development of
woodblock carving and printing in Vietnam. Their importance and high
value led feudal dynasties and state authorities to pay considerable
attention to preserving these records through the ages.
woodblock is a plate of wood on which words written in Chinese or
Chinese transcribed Vietnamese were carved in reverse as a popular
method of printing books in the Nguyen Dynasty. At present, 34,555
plates of woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty are being preserved in the
National Archive Center 4 - under the State Records and Archives
Department of Vietnam (at No. 2 Yet Kieu Str., Da Lat City). This is
regarded as a valuable library of more than 152 book titles with about
1,935 books that have very rich contents and is divided into nine
topics: history, geography, military affairs, legislation, prose and
verse, religion - ideal - philosophy, language – literature,
socio-politics, culture - education.
Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty were created primarily during the past
activities of the Historiographer's Office of Nguyen Dynasty
(established in 1820 under the Minh Mang reign) in Hue. Apart from the
woodblocks of official literature and history of Nguyen Dynasty,
woodblocks also included classic and historical books which were
collected from the Temple of Literature of Imperial College (Van Mieu –
Quoc Tu Giam) in Hanoi and transferred to Imperial College (Quoc Tu
Giam) in Hue under the reigns of Minh Mang and Thieu Tri. Since 1960,
the Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty have been transferred to Da Lat.
represent an important part of the country’s feudal history. They are
original with clear origin from its creation. Most of them were compiled
by the Court on the basis of official documents, which were carefully
verified and were managed by state bodies through different historical
periods. Due to such significant characteristics, woodblocks were
considered as national treasure in feudal period, which could only be
accessed by authorized people and people in Historiography's Office.
method of making the records, this is a close procedure costing a lot
of time and effort: Firstly, the King launched a royal decree to allow
to compile book. Then the Historiographer's Office was responsible in
researching, editing, carving and printing those kinds of books. It
researched old books and Imperial records to compile books. The
completed manuscript was submitted to the King. Then this manuscript was
sent back to the Office and they corrected as the King’s suggestions.
After that, this manuscript was written down clearly and submitted with a
petition to the King. After being approved, the manuscripts of the
works were carved on woodblocks under the close control of the mandarins
who were appointed by the king's edict. Then, woodblocks were used to
print into books. People could only carve books under the Kings’ order.
manipulate the records, the Historiographer's Office had to recruit
many skilled carvers. The carvers selected from widely in localities
across the country where is famous for wood carving, and the carving
techniques were entirely manual. The words were carved on wood as
contained all the enthusiasm of each worker. Each character engraved on
the wood is very delicate and sharp. Each record is not only precious
material but also a unique work of art. Therefore, apart from historical
value, the woodblocks also have artistic values and values in
manipulating technique, marking the development of woodblocks carving
and printing profession in Viet Nam.
to some documents, most of the wood blocks are made of thi tree wood
and the nha dong tree, which is both soft and smooth with an ivory
colour. These kinds of wood are especially good for preserving the shape
of the carvings. Therefore, even gone through hundreds of years the
woodblocks have been still in good physical condition. In addition, le
and tao trees are also used for carving woodblocks.
collection boasts many valuable and rare wood blocks, including Dai Nam
Nhat Thong Chi (History of the Unification of Great Viet Nam) and Dai
Nam Thuc Luc (Royal Annals of Great Viet Nam), Kham dinh Viet su thong giam cuong muc, Kham dinh Dai Nam hoi dien su le... They also include poems and literature works written by prominent kings like Minh Mang, Thieu Tri and Tu Duc.
woodblocks on the field of official literature and history of feudal
dynasties like this kind of the documents are specially valuable and
rare records of Viet Nam and also quite rare in the world.
records formed during the past activities of the Emperor and bodies
under the feudal machinery of administration in Nguyen Dynasty.
Woodblocks are sources of reliable history to help to study, compare,
review relevant history materials to serve better for researching in the
fields of Vietnamese history.
30th July 2009, the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty have been
recognized as a World Documentary Heritage at the meeting of the
International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the UNESCO in Bridgetown
(Barbados), from the 29th to the 31st of July 2009. They became the
first entry of Viet Nam in the list of UNESCO's Memory of the World
Programme. The Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty are particularly rare
documents in Viet Nam as well as in the world.