The Royal Antiquities Museum displays a huge collection of ornaments, furniture, jewelry, clothing, and other items relating to royal life during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). It is housed in the former Long An Palace, which is widely considered to be one of Vietnam’s most beautiful palaces. The striking building has seven compartments at its front, with eight beams covered in sculptures of dragons. The wooden parts of the palace feature elaborate carvings depicting various scenes, along with poems and essays written in Chinese script.
Having been relocated from the An Dinh residence to its original setting on Le Truc Street, the Royal Antiquities Museum sits just outside Hue’s Citadel (Imperial City). The building was used as a place of worship and a library before being established as a museum by King Khai Dinh and presented to his son, the last reigning emperor. The purpose of the museum was said to be “to revive generations of artisans who had built up the glorified Hue royal court.”
On August 24, 1923 King Khai Dinh (1916-1925) issued a decree on establishing the Khai Dinh Museum, the forerunner of the present-day Hue Royal Antiquities Museum. The purpose of setting up the museum was defined clearly, i.e. talents of a nation are reflected through the fine arts works that describe social activities, rituals, political and daily events…
From the very beginning of its existence, the museum was entrusted with the duty, “to revive generations of artisans who had built up the glorified Hue royal court.”
Hue Royal Antiquities Museum, now under the administration of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, has preserved and displayed nearly 10,000 antiquities relating to the life during the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The main showroom is Long An Palace, which is considered one of Viet Nam’s most beautiful, existing palaces.
Long An Palace is located on an area of 6,330m², its main showroom for the antiquities is 1,200m². There are 16 typical collections of items displayed inside and outside the Palace, including many of Vietnam’s precious handicraft fine arts objects such as Hue enamelled bronze wares, sets of gold tree branches and jade leaves, sets of wooden articles inlaid with mother
of-pearl or painted with red lacquer trimmed with gold, and copper antiquities made by Hue artisans. Long An Palace was built under the time of King Thieu Tri (1841-1847). It consists of seven compartments and two annexes plus 128 pillars made of precious timbers. The entire wooden parts are carved with beautiful scenes, the four sacred animals (dragon, lion, tortoise and phoenix) and more than 1,000 poems in Chinese scripts. Among them, there are two poems composed by King Thieu Tri, each having 56 words and engraved in the shape of the eight-sign figure that turns into 64 different seven- and five-word verses.
Long An Palace is a valuable museum, which displays poetic and painting works, a collection of literary pieces, historical references and stories, thoughts of nature and rules laid out by King Minh Mang (1820-1840), King Thieu Tri (1841-1847) and King Tu Duc (1847-1883). The Palace is a wonderful combination of architecture, poems and paintings that are reflected clearly through the carvings on wood. The art works and utensils of the Nguyen kings and royal families were made byskilful Vietnamese artisans with such materials as gold, silver, jade, ivory, glass, stone, wood, leather, fabrics, paper, bamboo, rattan and terra cotta. In addition, 80 objects of the Cham ethnic people found in 1927 in O and Ly areas and Tra Kieu ancient capital are considered valuable objects of the Far East and the world over. In the palace, there is a folding screen painted by painters of the Indochina College of Fine Arts 70 years ago. It was engraved and painted with pictures of 78 Hue women wearing the Ao Dai with different designs and colours. Outside the palace, there are on display a collection of 30 cannons of different types made in the Nguyen Dynasty and previous time. Besides cannons, in the court yard there is a collection of stone statues and stelae made in the Le Dynasty (1428-1527, 1533-1788) and the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). The most significant collection is that of large bronze bells, cauldrons, urns and pots.
When visiting Hue Royal Antiquities Museum, visitors will have a chance to enjoy the masterpieces made by Hue artisans over 700 years of development in the imperial city of Phu
Xuan – Hue.
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