The collection of Nguyen dynasty’s antiques

In 1838, Emperor Minh Mang changed the country name from Vietnam to Dai Nam and at the end of that year, he commanded to make castings. The manufacture of fine art articles drew the attention of the public and it was a great honour of the ancient emperors. The dynasties of Shang and Zhou pioneered in engraving ideas and philosophies onto the items, for example, Emperor Cheng Tang of Shang ordered to engrave the ideas onto trays or Emperor Wu-wang of Zhou commanded to engrave lessons onto chairs and staffs. Emperor Minh Mang followed that idea and ordered to make castings. Then, he commanded the courtiers to engrave the casted items with poems made by the emperor, containing the ideas of respect for the celestials and love for people as lessons for mandarins and descendants to teach themselves to correct mistakes, take care of the family and protect the justice.

The antiques are 33 types of copper containers simulating the containers of San Dai (Three Dynasties, namely Xia, Shang and Zhou). These antiques were used in rituals and are engraved with Chinese inscriptions of which the ideas are from classic literature works of Confucianism, forming a system of political ideology. The “Minh Mang” antiques were positioned on altars for celestials and ancestors worship rituals. These antiques could be distributed into the system of Nguyen Dynasty’s temples including Thai Mieu (Temple of Lords), The Mieu (Temple of Emperors), Hung Mieu (Temple of the Emperor’s Parents), Trieu Mieu (Temple of Nguyen Lords’s Ancestor), Phung Tien Palace (a place used to worship the emperors and queens of Nguyen Dynasty) and other different worship places that the emperors often presented during rituals.

The collection “Nguyen Dynasty’s Antiques” at the History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City introduces 12 antiques. Although the number is not adequate, these antiques show the uniqueness of their types and the great ideology of the Nguyen emperors in managing the country and the people. The ideology of “manage the family, rule the country and conquer the World” is clearly shown in the emperor-made inscriptions from the collections of antiques.


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