19.12.2010 - UNESCO Office in Ha Noi

Nguyen Dynasty wood blocks inscribed as Memory of the World

©SGGP / A wood block from the Nguyen dynasty and a corresponding paper copy

The Woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty are the first artifact of heritage in Viet Nam to be included in UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme, which seeks to preserve the heritage of humanity. The 34,555 wood-block plates date from 1697 to 1945 and are engraved with official literature and history in ancient Vietnamese and Chinese scripts. Under UNESCO’s programme, Viet Nam's State Records and Archives Management Department will be supported to preserve the blocks in both their original and digital forms.

At the award ceremony, UNESCO representative to Viet Nam, Katherine Muller-Marin, spoke of heritage as both contributor toward socio-economic development, and an artifact of public memory: “within a community, memory is visibly sustained by the public commemoration of people and events through heritage.” Mrs. Muller-Marin commended Viet Nam for preserving the wood blocks and for raising the visibility of the importance of heritage.

In addition to their historical value, the wood blocks also are important in terms of their art and skill, as they mark the development of the woodblock carving and printing profession in Viet Nam. Under the Nguyen dynasty, they were used to print information about social standards, articles on the lives and careers of the aristocracy and historical events.

UNESCO began its Memory of the World programme in 1992 as a way to preserve and promote documentary heritage. Once the Woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty have been digitized, the UNESCO Viet Nam office aims to create a website where their content can be accessed online.

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