Culture Culture

27/10/2019 - 07:31

Love Hue like BAVH

Léopold Michel Cadière and Edmond Gras's "Art and Artisans of Hue Imperial City", Vietnamese translated and annotated by Le Duc Quang, had its launch event on October 9, 2019 by the French Institute in Hue. This is not only a local cultural event but a reminiscence of BAVH.

The book cover of “Art and artisans of Hue Imperial City”. Photo: TL

105 years ago, it was Priest Léopold Michel Cadière who proposed to establish “Association des Amis du Vieux Hué” (The Association of Friends of Ancient Hue). After 30 years of existence (1914 - 1944), the association has left deep marks in Hue’s cultural flow with “Bulletin des amis du Vieux Hué” (BAVH) (Bulletin of Friends of Ancient Hue) that awed readers throughout Indochina with its scope and elaborateness at that time. "Art and artisans of Hue Imperial City" is a special edition of BAVH (No. 1/1919).

The Association of Friends of Ancient Hue is a diverse group of intellectuals including professors, priests, infantry captains, pharmacists, civil administrators, trade representatives, and treasurers... Together, they have created an intellectual forum based on special affection and admiration for Hue.

With a love for Hue, “The Association of Friends of Ancient Hue” made the bulletin BAVH with 121 published volumes and a catalog with about 13,000 written pages, 2,800 copies, and 700 plates. Nearly 20 years ago, Thuan Hoa Publisher started to translate and publish these in turn.

The value of Léopold Michel Cadière and his colleagues’ works lies not only in their rarity as reference resources but also in their ability to shed light on the unresolved issues of history, culture, geography and tourism, greatly contributing to research and learning activities.

We’ve been pondering and seeking ways to preserve the cultural values of Hue over nearly a century, yet it’s hard to overcome what "Friends of Ancient Hue" has done. In addition to the bulletin BAVH, the association has actively facilitated the establishment of the first library and museum about Hue, the erection of memorial steles, and the compilation of photo and print collections.

The association also consigns and supports members’ works to the bulletin for publication. Collection trips for research are also held. The association also proposes "An An Nam Fine Arts Education Program" to revive traditional artistic values.

One of the many activities to preserve and promote Hue cultural values by “The Association of Friends of Ancient Hue”, primarily in charge by Léopold Cadière, R. Orband, Gras ..., is to get actively involved in developing tourism activities in Hue with a proposal to establish an advertising delegation for Hue tourism.

On each issue, BAVH devotes a section called "Beautiful Hue" to praising the magical and gorgeous beauties of Hue landscape and people... BAVH also offers an interesting perspective of the Westerners through the column "The Europeans who visited the Ancient Hue" (Les Européens qui ont vu le Vieux-Hué).

Inspired by the story of BAVH, Dr. Tran Dinh Hang, Head of Vietnam National Institute for Cultural Arts Research in Hue, emphasizes the pressing need to found an organization gathering people with knowledge and heart for Hue and to build a fund for Hue culture.

An example is the return of King Thanh Thai's mother’s rickshaw to Hue Imperial Palace through an auction in France five years ago. In addition to the Citadel and numerous architectural monuments, Thua Thien Hue is also home to temples and shrines that possess historical and cultural values in hamlets and villages. They need both investment and preservation.

I think that is the way to "love Hue like BAVH": not only appreciating but also seeking ways to protect and maintain Hue cultural values ​​with practical, sensible, and sincere actions

By Dan Duy

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