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Jade Seal of the Nguyen Dynasty – a national treasure

“An Dai Nam Thu Thieu Thien Thu Thiem forever destined to transmit the nation billion” – a national treasure – was ordered by King Thieu Tri to be crafted from a white jade block in a year.

The work was recognized as a national treasure in 2017, currently kept at the National Museum of History. Antiquities are not displayed directly, but kept and preserved in a private room. Works are only introduced at some thematic exhibitions. The public can admire the treasure through 3D images on the museum’s website.

The seal is made of opaque white jade stone, also known as white jade, consisting of two parts: the knob and the seal face. The knob is carved with the shape of a dragon, in a scrolling dragon pose with its head raised, five claws, and twisted tail. The square seal face is embossed with nine words “Dai Nam Thu Thiem Thien Vinh Madam Truyen Quoc Bi” (The national jade seal of Dai Nam received a long-term destiny from heaven).

In front of the dragon’s head, there is a small inscription “Nam Giao great ceremony to fox” (the great sacrifice of Nam Giao altar). The hip seal has two small inscriptions: on the left is “Dac Thuong sand ceremony, worshiping only bowing” (Completing the great rituals, only respectfully engrave the seal), on the right is “Thieu Tri seven years of three months of the decade. fifth day” (March 15, 7th year of Thieu Tri, 1847).

The size of Dai Nam's savior: 14.5 cm high, 4.3 cm thick, 12.8 x 13.2 cm wide, 2.65 kg weight.  Photo: National Museum of History

The size of “Dai Nam Thu Thiem Thien Vinh Mai Truyen Quoc Bill” has dimensions: 14.5 cm high, 4.3 cm thick, 12.8 x 13.2 cm wide, 2.65 kg weight. Image: National Historical Museum

According to the book Vietnamese seal from the 15th century to the end of the 19th century (Nguyen Cong Viet), Dai Nam enjoys eternal life and transmits the nation billion It is the largest and most precious jewel of the Nguyen Dynasty. Jade billion is a seal made of jade with different colors, usually white jade and jade jade. During the Nguyen Dynasty, jade seals were mainly made during the reigns of King Minh Menh and Thieu Tri.

In the 6th year of Thieu Tri (1846), a person offered the king a large pearl – a product of the jade mountain region in Hoa Dien district, Quang Nam. The king sent the official Huu Tu to file the city of jade, which took a year to complete. The engraving of the seal into the seal is done according to the ritual. On March 15, 1847, the king performed a great ceremony, engraved nine words: “Dai Nam Thu Thien, eternal life transmission of the nation” on the face of the seal.

The king’s parable in 1847 is recorded in the book Kham Dinh Dai Nam Conference of Laws shows the existence of seals closely associated with the Nguyen Dynasty, with the nature of national inheritance. The parable clearly states: “Now that we have met the term of marigold, the jade sister has finished it. Respecting the first day of this month to prepare for the ritual, I personally raise the jade sister to pay respects to the ancestral temple, then leave the glasses at the Can Thanh palace, together with the traditional seal. All nations are solemn, prolonging an inheritance is difficult, maintaining it is not easy. We have to think about it, work hard to continue. We must be careful in advance to complete later, should keep it full and be at peace. okay, maybe a great career can be kept forever, but it’s good to pass it on to your descendants forever!…”.

The seal is not only used in the annual delivery ceremony at the Nam Giao Forum (Hue Capital), but also on the identities of the vassals, the things given to the world, protection and esteem.

The seal on the face of the seal.  Photo: National Museum of History

The seal on the face of the seal. Image: National Historical Museum

According to the book Dai Nam Thuc Luc Chinh Bien, the king ordered to make the national seal. “Kim treasure to work, to report the fate to the four directions, the jade sister respectfully takes it away, to pass it on to all generations,” said the king. When he auditioned, Thieu Tri was satisfied because “that billion-dollar sign was radiant with five bright colors, the two pearls glowed with nine written seals, a harbinger of heaven and number”. The king ordered a solemn ceremony to be held in front of The Mieu. All kings and mandarins must wear dynastic clothes to perform the ceremony, then carry the seal to Can Thanh Palace for hundreds of mandarins to admire and bow to.

The material is rare, so the number of jade billion is less than that of Kim Bao billion (golden seal) many times. There are very few remaining Han-Nom documents with the jade stamp of the Nguyen Dynasty. In the archives of the Nguyen Dynasty copies (administrative documents of the Nguyen Dynasty), there is no picture of the jade seal.

At the event to recognize the seal as a national treasure, jade artisan Dao Trong Cuong – Former Vice President of the Vietnam Gemological Association – once commented: “This is a precious white block. With the technique of chiseling the channel, that is, drilling deep into the jade block, with today’s modern technology, it also takes many months, so we can see that our ancestors had painstakingly selected skilled workers, careful in each stroke. Manual touch to achieve this treasure”.

According to the National History Museum’s documentary records, The Jade Seal of Dai Nam is forever destined to pass on the nation billion in the collection of treasures of the Nguyen Dynasty received by the Minister of Labor from Pham Khac Hoe – Dong Ly Ngu, office of Bao Dai Dynasty – on August 27-28, 1945. After the abdication of King Bao Dai, the collection was moved to Hanoi.

In December 1946, during the national resistance war against the French, the treasures were brought to be preserved and stored in Inter-zone 5. After the Dien Bien Phu victory in 1954, the treasures were brought to the Ministry of Finance for management. On December 17, 1959, the Ministry handed over to the Vietnam History Museum (now the National Museum of History) for storage.

In 1962, the museum sent the collection to the State Bank for preservation under a special regime.

Treasures are kept in corrugated iron boxes, packed in wooden crates with corresponding list of artifacts, sealed keys kept by the museum. In 2007, the Museum built a special storage warehouse, installed equipment to ensure security and safety, and brought the collection back.

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