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Imperial edict to recognise Deity of Uai Dung, 1888, Nguyên dynasty (1802 – 1945), Viet Nam, calligraphy over block-printed design of silver dragon on yellow handmade paper, 50.5 x 128.0 cm. Dated in Chinese calligraphy, standard script, black ink  » [ … 18th November, the first year of Thanh Thai [1888]] ». Gift of Andrew and Ann Proctor 2001, 26.2001. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (C) Art Gallery of NewSouth Wales, Sydney

This Imperial edict dates from the Nguyen dynasty when the capital of Vietnam was in Hue. The Emperors of this dynasty admired the Chinese and such edicts were generally written by court officials, ‘nho’, who had passed the Confucian system of examinations. (This examinations system existed in Vietnam from 1075 (in the Tran dynasty) until 1919.

This edict is written in Chinese calligraphy, standard script on handmade, yellow paper which according to French reports, could only be used by the sovereign. Such edicts were given to temple to grant additional titles to the local deities.

The translation of the edict (provided by Dr Li Tana from the Department of History and Politics of the University of Wollongong) read:

« This edict is to recognize the Deity of Uai Dung [mighty and brave], nurtured by the middle hamlet, Dong Cac village Nam Xuong district, Hanoi province. The deity has protected the country and the people and has always responded to the people’s prayers. (Nevertheless) he has never been granted a title officially (by the court). Recalling all the merits of the deity, a title of the Deity of Doan Tuc Duc Bao Trung Hung is now granted to him. The work of keeping the deity’s temple will be carried out by the same village as usual. Please deity, be with us so that my people will be protected by thee. 18th November, the first year of Thanh Tha (1888). »

Asian Art Department 2001