Visiting the Hometown of Great Poet Nguyen Du

The special national relic site to commemorate Nguyen Du is currently a favourite destination for visitors as it is the hometown of the celebrated poet who wrote the masterpiece “Truyen Kieu” (the Tale of Kieu). Preceding the 250th anniversary of his birthday (1765-2015), we paid a visit to the Nguyen Du Memorial, a place of great humanitarian, educational and scientific values. 

The Nguyen Du memorial site is situated in Tien Dien Commune, Nghi Xuan District, Ha Tinh Province, to the south of Ben Thuy Bridge, which is the border between Nghe An Province and Ha Tinh Province.

Ho Bach Khoa, Chairman of the relic site’s management board, guided us to visit the centre vestige covering 5ha inside a total 50ha area. He acknowledged that the site was established in 1965 in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Nguyen Du’s birthday and was recognised as a special national relic site by the Government on September 27, 2012.

The relic site includes relics of the Nguyen Family residing in Tien Dien Commune for over 400 years with 6 main areas: Nguyen Nghiem worshiping house, Nguyen Trong worshiping house, two literature houses, Nguyen Du’s tomb, Nguyen Du’s memorial house and Nguyen Du’s worshiping house.

The tomb of Nguyen Du in Cung field (Tien Dien Commune, Nghi Xuan, Ha Tinh). Photo: Trong Chinh

A statue of Nguyen Du placed in front of the memorial house in the relic site. Photo: Viet Cuong

Part of the Nguyen Du Relic Site in Tien Dien Commune, Nghi Xuan, Ha Tinh. Photo: Viet Cuong

The path to the garden of the Nguyen Family in Tien Dien Commune. Photo: Trong Chinh

The worshipping house and tomb of Nguyen Nghiem, Nguyen Du’s father, in Minh Quang Village,
Tien Dien Commune. Photo: Viet Cuong

Stone statues of post-Le Dynasty’s design in the tomb of Nguyen Nghiem. Photo: Viet Cuong

The walls around the communal house of Tro Market are covered with moss. Photo: Viet Cuong

The literature houses in the garden of Nguyen Family were built in 1785
as places for scholars in the area to recite poems. Photo: Trong Chinh

A qing (sounding stone) in front of a literature house. Photo: Trong Chinh

Delicate wooden carvings inside the communal house of Tro Market. Photo: Viet Cuong

In preparation for the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Nguyen Du’s birthday, the infrastructure of the Nguyen Du special national relic site is being maintained and upgraded, including roads and paths maintenance, trees planting, direction and indication signs, and buildings refurbished, among others, with a total capital of 27 billion dong.

The tomb of Nguyen Du covers an area of 3,219 m2 in Cung field (Tien Dien District). Originally, it was a rustic grave until Professor Dang Thai Mai put up a headstone reading “Tomb of Mister Nguyen from Tien Dien”.

Nguyen Du worshiping house was built in 1825 in Tien Giap Hamlet with an altar for Nguyen Du. On the altar is a memorial tablet reading “Thanh Hien Nguyen Tien Sinh,” (Mister Nguyen named Thanh Hien). Thanh Hien was one of Nguyen Du’s two pen names, the other was To Nhu. He used it to title a collection called “Thanh Hien thi tap” (Poems of Thanh Hien). Above the altar is a horizontal lacquered wooden board carved with four words “Hong son the pha” (the reputed family in the area of Hong mountain) given by Huang Fu Pai, an official of the Chinese Qing Dynasty, in Qianglong 55th year (1790).

The worshiping house was built to resemble the Chinese character “ding” with the front and back buildings separating each other. It was spoiled by time but was repaired in 1956.

The worshiping house of Nguyen Nghiem (father of Nguyen Du) is located in Minh Quang Village with a total area of 682m2 and was built according to the architectural style of post- Le Dynasty.

There are two literature houses where scholars in Tien Dien Commune gathered to recite poems. They were burned in 1790 and were rebuilt by the Nguyen Family and officials in the district.

Near these houses is the communal house of Tro market made from jackfruit wood. In the past, this place was used to house objects related to Nguyen Du and his family but after these objects were moved to the memorial house, it was turned into a place for people to write in the book of memories or buy versions of “Truyen Kieu”.

The gallery house displays over 1,000 objects related to the life and career of Nguyen Du
and the Nguyen Family in Tien Dien. Photo: Viet Cuong

An ink slab Nguyen Du used. Photo: Viet Cuong

A wine accessory set Nguyen Du used in Tien Dien. Photo: Trong Chinh

A dish decorated with images of an apricot tree and a crane
that Nguyen Du was given during a working trip to China during the Qing Dynasty in 1813. Photo: Viet Cuong

Objects that Nguyen Du used. Photo: Trong Chinh

The book entitled “Nghi Xuan dia chi” (Topography of Nghi Xuan) mentions Tien Dien,
the hometown of great national poet Nguyen Du. Photo: Trong Chinh

The memorial house of Nguyen Du is at the front of the relic site and has been used since 2003 to display documents and illustrations of Nguyen Du’s works as well as some objects such as: ink slabs, a dish decorated with images of an apricot tree and a crane he was given during a working trip abroad, wine containers and cups, antler wall hooks, a compass for sport hunting and a wooden relief depicting the procession of Nguyen Nghiem when he got the title of Doctor.

Story: Thao Vy
Photos: Trong Chinh – Viet Cuong