Culture Culture

10/10/2022 - 08:52

200 years of a land’s name

After 200 years of important changes and development, the name Thua Thien prefecture, which was coined in the year of the Horse (1822) under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, has now been changed to Thua Thien Hue.

Thua Thien Hue having been known by many different names. Photo: NGUYEN PHONG

Being named Thua Thien prefecture, this land was also the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, so it had a special position in terms of functions, duties, officials’ ranking, salary and incentives. 

From Thua Thien prefecture

Emperor Minh Mang replaced the previous name of Quang Duc Zone with Thua Thien prefecture. According to historians and researchers, Thua Thien has the meaning of “obeying heaven's orders” or “taking great orders from heaven” to name the capital, where the Son of Heaven rules the country.

After changing the name of the land, the Emperor assigned a Citadel Commandant to take care of the military and civilian affairs of the prefecture, with the assistance of a governor and a chief. There were also 2 ministries and 33 officials in the prefecture. The prefecture also had districts ruled by the district chiefs. Until 1832, the whole country had only one prefecture, which was Thua Thien, and 30 provinces categorized into large-sized, medium-sized and small-sized ones.

Assoc. Prof. Dr. Do Bang, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Historical Science Association, said that Thua Thien prefecture had 6 districts with 31 towns. In the years 1853-1876, Thua Thien prefecture also included Quang Tri. This was the period when the total area of Thua Thien prefecture was largest.

“Although it was a prefecture, it was also the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty, so it had a special position in terms of functions, duties, officials’ ranking, salary and incentives,” said Mr. Bang.

According to Mr. Bang, the prefecture office of Thua Thien used to be located inside the Citadel. It was moved to Dieu De Pagoda after the fall of the capital in 1885 and then to the south bank of the Perfume River in 1899, now the location of the Provincial People's Committee.

200 years from Thua Thien prefecture then to Thua Thien Hue province now

Meanwhile, Mr. Tran Dai Vinh, the researcher, said that regarding the principle of appointing officials of Thua Thien prefecture, the Nguyen Dynasty mostly adhered to the “rule of avoidance”, which meant that residents of Thua Thien or those whose wives came from Thua Thien wouldn’t be appointed as officials of Thua Thien prefecture. However, a number of royal sect officials residing in Thua Thienwere still appointed. Chances were that their official residence was Gia Mieu village, Tong Sondistrict, Ha Trung prefecture, Thanh Hoa province.

In addition, according to Mr. Tran Dai Vinh, the researcher, the rewarding and punishing practices for officials in Thua Thien prefecture were clear. While a reward was rarely given, a punishment was often imposed, showing the strictness in rewarding and punishing practices for officials under the NguyenDynasty.

Mr. Nguyen Quang Trung Tien, a researcher and lecturer at University of Sciences, Hue University, said that changing the land’s name from Quang Duc to Thua Thien inevitably caused the name Thua Thien to be widely circulated in the state’s papers and documents throughout the country right under the reign of Emperor Minh Mang.

So when was the name Thua Thien first used and known by countries around the world? According to Mr. Tien, in foreign publications, the name Thua Thien was first used and known by countries around the world about ten years later than in Vietnam, after the administrative reform of Emperor Minh Mang in 1831-1832. These publications include missionary literature, geographic research, and dictionaries/autobiography.

To Thua Thien Hue

The name Thua Thien prefecture lasted until August 1945 when it was changed to Nguyen Tri Phuong province - the name of the hero from Phong Chuong commune, Phong Dien district who fought against the French.

Mr. Duong Phuoc Thu, the researcher, said that the province was named Nguyen Tri Phuong for just over a month, until October 9th, 1945, when it was renamed to Thua Thien province.

From December 1954, the name Thua Thien Hue appeared on many official documents, especially the cufflinks of the provincial Party Committee newspaper. After January 27th, 1973, when the Paris Agreement was signed, the Provisional Revolutionary People's Committee of Thua Thien Hueprovince was established. The name Thua Thien Hue existed until April 30th, 1976, before the People's Committee of Binh Tri Thien province was introduced.

In 1989, these three provinces were separated, and Thua Thien Hue was regained to name the province officially from 1/7/1989.

“In short, the name Thua Thien dates back to 1822 during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang. Meanwhile, the name Thua Thien - Thuan Hoa dates back to 1949, and the name Thua Thien Huedates from December 1954 to the present day,” affirmed Mr. Duong Phuoc Thu, the researcher.

According to Mr. Thu's explanation, despite the name Thua Thien Hue, many people in the neighboring districts of Hue City, including those living in areas quite far from the center of the province such as Phong Dien or Phu Loc, still often proudly say, out of force of habit, that “I come from Hue”. Hue is the umbrella term that covers and represents the whole province of Thua Thien, or the old Quang Duc Zone.

Story & photos: NHAT MINH