Rare Gem Collection on Display at Ho Chi Minh City

More than 200 precious and ancient artifacts from prehistoric times to the early twentieth century are converging in the thematic exhibition "Pearl Shape" at the Ho Chi Minh City History Museum.

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On the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of its establishment (1979 – 2022) and the Independence Day of September 2, the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History held the opening ceremony of the exhibition of antiquities called “Pearl Shape” on August 30.

The exhibition displays more than 200 ancient jade artifacts dating from prehistoric times to the early twentieth century. This is an opportunity for the public and antique enthusiasts to admire the majesty of unique artifacts that have never been revealed before.

Rare Gem Collection on Display at Ho Chi Minh City
Delegates cut the ribbon at the opening of the exhibition. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History

Among the displayed artifacts, the highlight is the collection of ancient pearls of doctor Duong Quynh Hoa (Duong Ha). The Duong Ha Collection was collected by the couple Professor Duong Minh Thoi and Mrs. Ha Thi Ngoc – the parents of doctor Duong Quynh Hoa (Minister of Health of the Provisional Government of the Republic of South Vietnam) from 1930 to 1940.

In addition to the precious collection of Duong Ha, the public can also see the artifacts of Victor Thomas Holbé (1857-1927) collected in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

This collection is considered a premise in the establishment of the Blanchard de la Brosse Museum in 1929 – now the Museum of History of Ho Chi Minh City.

According to historical documents, Holbé was a pharmacist who served in the French Navy, and at the same time, he was Vice Chairman of the Colonial Council of Cochinchina. Holbé was a renowned collector and researcher of jade antiquities. He had 2,160 artifacts belonging to the cultures of Vietnam and Indochina as well as China and Japan.

Rare Gem Collection on Display at Ho Chi Minh City
Victor Thomas Holbé Collection. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History

After Holbé’s death, the Indochina Research Association campaigned to raise money to buy back his collection for 45,000 Indochina Dong.

In 1927, the Governor of Cochinchina Blanchard de la Brosse signed a decree to establish the Cochinchina Museum, then renamed it Blanchard de la Brosse.

After the inauguration, the museum displayed the collection of pharmacist Victor Thomas Holbé, some outstanding artifacts include a group of ivory artifacts (ornaments, seals), precious stones, ceramics, glass (screens, sticks, snuff bottles), Buddha statues of Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand. The Malleret Collection with the group of jewelry artifacts of the Oc Eo culture: Gold rings and earrings, gemstone beads, and more than 5,000 rare monographs on Indochina and the Far East.

Many Eastern people believe that jade symbolizes wealth, power, beauty, and nobility. Jade is not only rare in material and beauty but also revered for its eternal values and meanings. The ancients believed that jade had supernatural properties such as healing, and feng shui.

Rare Gem Collection on Display at Ho Chi Minh City
Some precious artifacts are on display. Photo: Ho Chi Minh City History Museum:

Some other artifacts have also been displayed in France at many famous places such as Paris, Eiffel Tower, and Buffalo Bill. This collection of artifacts is very rare and valuable in terms of history, culture, and art and is associated with the development of the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History. Therefore, in 2021, this collection was chosen by the museum to open its first online warehouse to the public after 100 years of preservation.

This time, there were ancient jades containing grain used in sacrifices with handles on both sides decorated with dragon images through Chinese cultural periods. The group of artifacts “office of the four treasures”, with extremely elegant and delicate floral details, used by the intelligentsia and feudal aristocrats – is a symbol of wealth and well-being.

Rare Gem Collection on Display at Ho Chi Minh City
Photo: Ho Chi Minh City History Museum:

In addition, a group of artifacts representing the power and status of the user such as archer rings, wish-fulfilling jade sticks, jade pendants, belt hooks, belt buckles, and decorative pieces with various carved lines, the ingenuity of the ancient artisans was also on display.

The “Pearl Shape exhibition ” is open to the public at the Ho Chi Minh City Museum of History until November 30, 2022.

Da Quang