Embedded Poetry Enhances Royal Vietnamese Buildings


Embedding poetry within the architectural structure of buildings most certainly is an unusual way of displaying and preserving patriotic art.  The province of Thua Thien-Hue in Vietnam recently cited such ‘art’ as “a documentary heritage of the Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific (MOWCAP). Poetry drawn on and embedded in architecture in the province also has met the criteria in the registry dossiers formed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

It was not until it was recognized as an UNESCO heritage that the royal literature collection caught the attention of cultural researchers. In the early 1980s, experts from the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre started conducting research and translating poems carved on the Hue Royal Architecture for decoration purposes under the Nguyen Dynasty. The Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) was the last royal dynasty of Vietnam.

According to Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, the poetry on the Hue royal architecture includes Chinese-language scripts in the form of poems that were meticulously carved onto clusters of three wooden plates and wooden walls build during the Nguyen Dynasty.

Particularly notable is the ‘one Poem and One Painting’ decoration style on the Hue royal architecture, which was formed and developed during the Nguyen Dynasty and became the court’s rule in decorating royal architecture from then on.

Literary works in the Hue royal architecture reflect the thoughts of the Nguyen kings on history, national independence, culture, governance and welfare. Many experts, researchers, and cultural managers evaluated the works as special decorative arts that had been made and preserved in Ha Tinh province. The heritage is unique in the world with diverse contents found on different materials, including wood, stone, bronze, enamel, ceramics and lacquer.