Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty

Under the Nguyen Dynasty, due to the need to popularize social standards, compulsory articles of law, Kings’ and Lords’ life and career and historical events … the Imperial Court allowed to carve many sets of history books and literature work for delivering. During the past activities, it helped to form a special type of record, which are the woodblocks. These are the unique original records.

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The Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty was assessed in the heritage records as follows:

The 34,555 plates of wood-blocks of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) helped to record official literature and history as well as classic and historical books. Their value is at once documentary and artistic. Their technique furthermore represents a landmark in the development of woodblock carving and printing in Vietnam. Their importance and high value led feudal dynasties and state authorities to pay considerable attention to preserving these records through the ages.

The woodblock is a plate of wood on which words written in Chinese or Chinese transcribed Vietnamese were carved in reverse as a popular method of printing books in the Nguyen Dynasty. At present, 34,555 plates of woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty are being preserved in the National Archive Center 4 – under the State Records and Archives Department of Vietnam (at No. 2 Yet Kieu Str., Da Lat City). This is regarded as a valuable library of more than 152 book titles with about 1,935 books that have very rich contents and is divided into nine topics: history, geography, military affairs, legislation, prose and verse, religion – ideal – philosophy, language – literature, socio-politics, culture – education.

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The Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty were created primarily during the past activities of the Historiographer’s Office of Nguyen Dynasty (established in 1820 under the Minh Mang reign) in Hue. Apart from the woodblocks of official literature and history of Nguyen Dynasty, woodblocks also included classic and historical books which were collected from the Temple of Literature of Imperial College (Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam) in Hanoi and transferred to Imperial College (Quoc Tu Giam) in Hue under the reigns of Minh Mang and Thieu Tri. Since 1960, the Woodblocks of Nguyen Dynasty have been transferred to Da Lat.