"Hoang Hoa su trinh do” (The Envoy’s Journey to China - literally translated as maps and itinerary of the envoy’s journey to China) of the Nguyen Huy family in the central province of Ha Tinh has just been listed as one of documentary heritage in Asia and the Pacific under UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme.
Old texts from the ancient book "Hoang Hoa su trinh do”. (Photo courtesy of Chu Thu Phuong)
This is not only the pride of the Nguyen Huy family and Ha Tinh province, but also brings honour to Vietnam as more valuable cultural heritage is known to international friends.
According to the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO, "Hoang Hoa su trinh do" is an ancient book describing one of the diplomatic activities between Vietnam and China in the 18th century. It features the sending of Vietnamese envoys to China, showing exchanges between countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
With writings, drawings and maps, the book recorded the diplomatic relationship between Vietnam and China in the 18th century through journeys of Vietnamese envoys. It was compiled and edited by Nguyen Huy Oanh (1713-1789) based on documents of previous envoys and historical records as well as notes from his own journey in 1766-1767, during which he worked as the main envoy of the Vietnamese delegation.
According to Prof. Academician Nguyen Huy My, the 16th descendant of the Nguyen Huy - Truong Luu family, the book was copied by Nguyen Huy Trien in 1887 from the original version compiled by Nguyen Huy Oanh from 1765 to 1767 under the reign of King Le Hien Tong (1740-1786), which has been kept by the Nguyen Huy - Truong Luu family in Can Loc district.
The book, 30cm in length, 20cm in width and 2cm in thickness, was printed on “do” paper. The main content is a map of Nan Guan to Beijing. There are also some pictures of mountains and rivers, and natural landscapes. It also described reception forms and the length of the road.
“Hoang Hoa su trinh do” is currently the only manuscript kept by the Nguyen Huy family's descendants in Truong Luu village, reflecting diplomatic relations between Vietnam and China from the 10th century to the 18th century. It is a rare and unique work, valuable in terms of geography, history, politics, diplomacy, culture, customs, and art.
From May 29-31, the UNESCO Memory of the World programme held its 8th Plenary Meeting in Gwangju, the Republic of Korea (RoK), attracting 125 participants from 28 countries.
Dossiers of eight countries, including Tuvalu, Myanmar, China, the Philippines, RoK, Australia, Vietnam, and Solomon Islands were considered at the event.
The dossier of the book received 17 votes from 17 members of the panel. It meets all the criteria to be recognised as documentary heritage of the Memory of the World programme.
Vietnam has so far had four documentary heritage recognized at the Asia-Pacific region level, including the “Buddhist Sutra Woodblocks of Truc Lam Zen at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, in Yen Dung district of the northern province of Bac Giang; the "Royal Literature on Hue Royal Architecture”; and the “Woodblocks of Phuc Giang School” (Truong Luu woodblocks), and "Hoang Hoa su trinh do” in Ha Tinh.
Especially, "Hoang Hoa su trinh do" and "Truong Luu woodblocks" were made and kept by descendants of the Nguyen Huy family in Ha Tinh.
The Memory of the World Programme is an international programme aimed at safeguarding, preserving and facilitating access to and the use of documentary heritage. UNESCO launched the programme in 1992. It includes the inscription of significant documentary heritage on national, regional and international registers.
MOWCAP was set up in 1998 and is the regional forum for UNESCO’s global Memory of the World (MOW) Programme. MOWCAP aims to assist with the preservation of and universal access to documentary heritage of the Asia Pacific region, and also to increase awareness of the existence and significance of the heritage.-VNA