Last update 12/8/2010 11:15:00 AM (GMT+7)

Many Hue royal antiques stolen

VietNamNet Bridge – Many valuable antiques in the imperial city of Hue and kings’ tombs have been stolen recently. Researchers worry that the ancient capital city will lose its attractiveness once its antiques are lost.

On December 1, thieves broke in King Khai Dinh’s tomb in Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy town, Hue city and stole belongings of King Khai Dinh and a charity box.

In July 2010, a charity box and several antiques were stolen in the Hue royal palace and King Minh Mang’s tomb.

A researcher of Hue, Phan Thuan An, who has worked at the Center for Preservation of Hue Relics for more than 20 years, said many Hue’s royal antiques have been lost due to historical upheavals, wars and burglary. There are not many Hue royal antiques remaining.

According to An, the highest number of antiques were stolen during 1975-1985 period when thieves broke into many royal tombs.

In 1985, a tourist hid a big bronze censer in King Khai Dinh’s tomb in his coat and easily evaded the eyes of guards.

In 1987-1988, a gold-inlaid hat was stolen at the tomb of Queen Mother Tu Du. The thief was arrested after that but the hat was not returned to the tomb.

“The Hue Royal Antique Museum currently has over 8000 items but this number is equivalent to one tenth of the items in the Nguyen Dynasty’s golden age. The loss of antiques has harmed the soul of Hue relics,” An said.

Researcher Ho Tan Phan also worries that the number of tourists to Hue will reduce if the Hue relics lose their antiques.

Phung Phu, director of the Center for Preservation of Hue Relics, said that it is difficult to protect antiques because the range of Hue relics is very vast.

Thua Thien-Hue province’s vice chair Ngo Hoa said the local government will tighten security at the sites of relics to protect antiques.

Researcher Phan Thuan An said that most valuable antiques of the Nguyen Dynasty are displayed at the Vietnam History Museum in Hanoi, not at museums in Hue.

Some Hue’s antiques were auctioned overseas and Vietnam didn’t win the auctions. Most recently, a painting by King Ham Nghi was auctioned in Paris and a foreign collector won the auction, paying 8,800 euros for the painting. A gold-made water serpent statue of King Ming Mang was also auctioned in Paris at the winning prize of Eur12000.

According to An, some antiques were stolen and then found but they were not returned to the original places.