Hue loses large amounts of artifacts

VietNamNet Bridge - Through great events in history, particularly the wars, a large volume of antiques of Hue royal citadel lost.


Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Some antiques in Khai Thanh Palace, Khai Dinh Tomb were stolen.


According to Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Centre for Conservation of Hue Monuments, many Hue antiques are owned by government organizations, private collections at home and abroad or have disappeared.

Based on historical records, the massive losses of Hue antiques happened many times, especially in the years of 1775, 1862, 1885, 1945, 1947, and 1972.

In 1775, the army of Le - Trinh led by Duke Hoang Ngu Phuc attacked and occupied Thuan Hoa - the capital of the Nguyen Lord. After the occupation, the army swept off treasures of the royal family and nobles.

In 1862, after losing three Southeast provinces to the French, the Nguyen Dynasty had to mobilize a lot of gold, silver and antiques to the temple to pay war indemnity. France had demanded 4 million piastre (over 2.8 million taels of silver).

Many documents said that the king had to take a lot of precious items made of gold and gems, even gold seals and gold books of princes and princesses and the jewelry in gold and silver of concubines to pay the war indemnity for France. For this reason, the majority of artifacts crafted by gold and silver in Hue royal citadel became scarce. Even the trees made of gold, silver and gem in royal palaces, royal tombs and temples of the Nguyen Dynasty were replaced with trees made of wood and gem.

Dr. Hai said that the biggest losses of Hue were associated with the fall of the capital city in July 1885. On July 5, 1885, the French army attacked the Hue citadel. They killed and robbed people in an extremely barbaric way. In this bloody event, not only tens of thousands of people were killed but Hue also lost its most valuable assets.

Priest Père Siefert, who witnessed this tragic event, wrote: "Treasures of the royal palace lost nearly 24 million taels of gold and silver ... The robbery that lasted for two months was more scandalous than the robbery at the Summer Palace of the Qing Empire in Beijing".

According to Père Siefert, compared with the inventory of the royal assets made before July 1885 with the loss, the French army robbed 228 diamonds, 266 pieces of jewelry encrusted with diamond, pearls, jade, and 271 gold items in the palace of the Queen Mother. At the temples of Kings, most things that can take away were robbed."

General De Courcy, who commanded the attack to the capital of Hue, sent to the French government a telegram with the following content: "The approximate value of the wealth of gold or silver in the vaults is about 9 million francs. Many gold seals and books worth millions of francs have been found. Very difficult to gather art treasures. Need a ship and many professional employees to take everything with treasures".

At the same time, a lot of assets were brought to the Tan So - Quang Tri base by the warmonger Ton That Thuyet to prepare for the long war.

During the process the French chased Ton That Thuyet from 7/1885, Quang Tri province seized 34 boxes containing 36,557 silver coins and six coffins of silver, including 196 silver ingots, each ingot weighing 10 taels and 18,696 silver coins. These assets were seized by the French.

The French Embassy in  Central Vietnam was well informed of the assets of Hue royal citadel. In 6/1899, France sent its representatives to join officials of the Nguyen Dynasty to find and dig up a silver vault. Under the reign of King Duy Tan in 1915, two silver vaults were dug up, with 60 wooden boxes containing 10,000 silver ingots the first time and 70 wooden boxes containing 10,000 silver bullions.

France asked the Nguyen Dynasty to deposit the silver at a bank branch in Shanghai to get annual interest for the court, to buy military bonds to support French troops in the First World War or contribute capital to a French company. "After that, no one knew about this capital contribution. The Nguyen dynasty lost all of them," Hoa said.

However, the Nguyen Dynasty kept part of very valuable treasures such as gold and jade seals and daily life appliances of kings and queens, which were then used as objects of worship.

In 8/1945 when Bao Dai - the last emperor - abdicated, the Nguyen Dynasty handed over most of the remaining treasures of the monarch to the Provisional Revolutionary Government, including the seal and sword symbolizing the emperor's power. The whole royal assets consisted of 3,000 objects. They were brought to Hanoi and specially preserved through the two wars.

The only regrettable thing is that the set of seal and sword symbolizing the emperor's power, including the King’s seal that weighs 10,5kg, and the gold and jade inlaid sword hilt, are now in France. These items were brought to France by Queen Nam Phuong and deposited at Europe Bank.

A lot of the artifacts that were preserved and exhibited at the Museum of Hue also were lost in the period from 1945 to 1975. There were very precious artifacts such as the Tuc Mac Hau ink slab of Emperor Tu Duc which was taken as private property of President Ngo Dinh Diem of the Saigon regime. This item has not been seen since the Diem government was overthrown.

A significant loss occurred in 1972 when artifacts were transported to Saigon.

Many rare antiques were moved to other places or sold by their owners, mostly aristocratic families in Hue due to their shift of residence or their financial difficulties. Some antique collectors in South Vietnam at that time bought a lot of valuable antiques from Hue.

“Later, another form of loss of Hue artifacts was noted: Some people accidentally discovered Hue antiques. They did not report to the authorities but sold the antiques to scrap dealers or antique collectors. Most of these artifacts have 'quietly' left Hue; few of them are in the city but in private collections," Dr. Hai said.

Also after 1975, especially in the 1980s, many precious antiques in Hue City and the vicinity were stolen. Many royal tombs were broken into by thieves to seek antiques and valuable things, including the tombs of Kien Thai Vuong (father of emperors Dong Khanh, Ham Nghi and Kien Phuc), Queen Mother Tu Du (Emperor Tu Duc’s mother) and most of the tombs of Nguyen Lords.

In 2012 and 2013, intruders broke into Khai Thanh Palace in Khai Dinh tomb and Hoa Khiem palace in Tu Duc tomb to steal some valuable antiques.

Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 Can Chanh Palace

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 A tree made of gold, silver and gemstone.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 The French soldiers attacked the Hue Citadel in 1885.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 Some palaces in the Hue Royal Citadel were nearly empty after the attack.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 The Home Affair Bureau of the Nguyen Dynasty lost everything after the attack.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

Photo: In 1952, the French organized a "solemn" ceremony in Da Lat to give back the seal and the sword to the chief of state Bao Dai.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 The ink slab of King Tu Duc has disappeared for many decades.

 Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge

 Kien Thai Vuong tomb lost many antiques.


Dai Duong

To be continued...

Hue loses large amounts of artifacts,Vietnam culture, Vietnam tradition, vn news, Vietnam beauty, news Vietnam, Vietnam news, Vietnam net news, vietnamnet news, vietnamnet bridge
 
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