Last update 8/8/2011 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

“Sea and island museum” of a Hue’s researcher

VietNamNet Bridge – In a small house located on Nguyen Chi Thanh Road in the ancient capital city of Hue, researcher Phan Thuan An is preserving many valuable documents on Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.

The historic document with King Bao Dai’s signature
Research An previously presented two old documents related to the Hoang Sa Archipelago to the Foreign Ministry. He has recently made public an evidence of Vietnam’s marine sovereignty: the relieves of the East Sea and some islands on nine censers made under the reign of King Minh Mang.

Mr. An now preserves some historic documents which are evidences of Vietnam’s marine and island sovereignty, including the book entitled “Dai Nam Thuc Luc”, which wrote about Hoang Sa and Truong Sa Archipelagoes since 1963, scans of the two old documents that he presented to the Foreign Ministry and pictures of the nine censers of the Nguyen Dynasty and many other documents.

The East Sea carved on a censer of the Nguyen Dynasty
According to An, the two historic documents that were donated to the Foreign Ministry was drawn up at the palace of Princess Ngoc Son, the daughter of King Dong Khanh, in the royal citadel of Hue.

Written in Vietnamese and French, the paper from the royal court of King Bao Dai stated that the King approved the award of the Long Tinh Medal to Frenchman Louis Fontan, from Kho Xanh soldiers stationed in the Hoang Sa archipelago on February 3, 1939.

On February 2, 1939, an official from the French Resident Superior Graffeuil requested King Bao Dai award the Long Tinh Medal to Louis Fontan from a guard team at Hoang Sa archipelago.

Mr. Fontan was stricken with malaria at the time he was stationed at Hoang Sa archipelago and died in a hospital in Hue. The document with the note of King Bao Dai shows Vietnam’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa archipelago

On February 3, 1939, Chief of Cabinet of the King Pham Quynh submitted the document to King Bao Dai for approval and the king noted chuan (agree) on the document.

Senior Lieutenant Colonel Tran Dinh Tung copied the document and submitted it to the King.

Researcher Phan Thuan An
Mr. Fontan was awarded the Long Tinh Medal for protecting the Hoang Sa archipelago under the Nguyen dynasty.

This is one of the 70 historic documents with the signatures of King Bao Dai which are preserved at the palace of Princess Ngoc Son, where his family lives and a clear evidence of Vietnam’s sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago.

“This document is valuable because it is original. Especially, it confirms that before the World War II in the Pacific Ocean, the Hoang Sa Archipelago belonged to Vietnam, though Vietnam was under French rule at that time,” Mr. An said.

On July 10, 2011, An made public another document associated with Vietnam’s sovereignty over the East Sea: images of the East Sea on nine bronze censers placed in front of the temple, where worshiped kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, in the Hue royal citadel. These censers were made in the early 19th century.

The nine censers were carved with rivers, sea, ports, border-gates, animals, crops, weapons, vehicles, etc. Notably, the East Sea was carved on the censer named Cao Dinh (for King Gia Long), the South Sea on the Nhan Dinh censor (for King Minh Mang), the West Sea on the Chuog Dinh censer (for King Thieu Tri). These are the three biggest and the most important of the nine censers, representing the three first kings of the Nguyen Dynasty.

The West Sea is the sea to the west of Vietnam’s southern region, which is adjacent to the waters of Thailand. The South Sea is the territorial waters to the south of the southern region, adjacent to the waters of Malaysia and Indonesia. The East Sea is much larger than the South and the West Seas.

“It shows that the Nguyen Dynasty paid special attention to Vietnam’s territorial waters,” Mr. An said.

At the age of 71, Mr. An is still very enthusiastic to seeking historic evidences of Vietnam’s marine sovereignty.

The researcher of Hue culture Phan Thuan An was born in 1940 in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue. In 1966, he graduated from the History Faculty of the Hue Arts University. He got the MA diploma of history from the Saigon University in 1972. He was a lecturer of the Hue High School and then worked for the Centre for Preservation of Hue Relics until retirement in 2004.