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Vietnam feudal era library reopens after 75 years

By Vo Thanh   March 17, 2021 | 12:01 am PT
Vietnam feudal era library reopens after 75 years
Tang Tho Chamber, a Nguyen Dynasty library, stands at the center of Ngoc Hai Lake in the Hue Imperial Citadel. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.
The Tang Tho Chamber, a national library under the Nguyen Dynasty, the last Vietnamese kings, has begun welcoming visitors in central Hue town after being closed for 75 years.

The chamber displays more than 70,000 documents in diverse genres, including books in the ancient Vietnamese script of Han Nom, ancient bibliographies, archeologic works related to the Nguyen Dynasty, books on arts, architecture, culture, religious beliefs, linguistics and cartography.

Many historical books in the library are recorded in both original Chinese etched form and Vietnamese translations.

The chamber also preserves films that recreate the worshiping rituals in Nguyen Dynasty such as Nam Giao – a ceremony worshiping the Heaven and the Earth, and Xa Tac, which worships the Earth and the Rice God. There are also more than 4,000 pictures of ancient Hue and modern Hue, the imperial city during the Nguyen Dynasty that reigned from 1802 to 1945.

Photos collected from various sources vividly illustrate the unique architecture and lifestyle of the Nguyen Imperial Palace.

Books and other documents are stored inside Tang Tho Chamber in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Books and other documents are stored inside Tang Tho Chamber in Hue. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh.

Vo Le Nhat, Director of Hue Monuments Conservation Center, said the chamber has served many different functions, causing serious damage to its structure.

The project to restore the Tang Tho Chamber took seven years to complete.

The chamber was considered the national library under the Nguyen Dynasty. It was built on a small island in the Hue Citadel. The two-story building was built with bricks and stones, and roofed with terracotta tiles. The upper floor stored books and documents.

It was first built in 1825 during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, second emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty, with the aim of preserving important papers and documents of the court.

The chamber no longer functioned as an archive after 1945. Most of the documents were scattered, lost, or destroyed during the wars that followed.

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