Life Life

09/02/2019 - 07:21

Offering thanh trà to the emperors

The thanh trà (local pomelo) offering ritual in 2018 with the support of Hue Monuments Conservation Center was re-enacted methodically and meticulously in accordance with historical documents.

In the Autumn of 2018, thanh trà - a famous specialty of Hue - the Ancient Capital, was offered to the imperial palace through a colorful traditional ritual for the first time: the thanh trà offering ritual. The (thanh trà) festival was a great success because of not only the satisfaction of the organizers and local community of Thủy Biều - the famous land for its thanh trà, but also its attraction to many tourists. For those who work in tourism or service, the success of the Thanh trà offering ritual also opened a great opportunity to introduce and promote the unique products of the Ancient Capital and more...

Under the Nguyen Dynasty, the imperial court had very specific regulations on the offering of local specialities to the imperial capital. The book Khâm định Đại Nam hội điển sử lệ, in the Chapter of Ministry of Rites, Volume 120, clearly states the types, quantities and ways of offering the products of the localities.

As for Thừa Thiên province (Thừa Thiên Huế for now), the selected items to be offered are new crop rice and fruits. Among the fruits of Thừa Thiên, the highlight ones are Thanh trà of Thủy Biều and the tangerine of Hương Cần. These famous fruits are also recorded in the books Đại Nam Nhất Thống chí of Quốc sử quán (the National Archives), and Nam Quốc địa dư of Bachelor Lương Trúc Đàm...

The local product offering ceremony used to be held on the occasion of important holidays of the Nguyen dynasty, such as Nam Giao offering ritual, Xã Tắc  offering ritual, Lunar New Year, Đoan Dương Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, Vạn Thọ ceremony, Thánh Thọ ceremony, Hưởng rituals at temples…  Particularly for Thừa Thiên, since it is also the imperial capital, its ceremonies of offering local specialities are allowed to organize with many favours and the main ceremony is held just in front of Ngọ Môn (Noon Gate).

On the day of the ceremony, the royal court allowed the district official to lead the decently dressed elders carrying boxes of products with a red paper with the words “Expressing sincerity” stuck outside; these were laid on a red painting table, next to which were an altar and two parasols. Although the rite was simple but it was solemn. After the worship of five kowtows of the elders, the specialities would be passed on to the guards, being received and granted money equivalent to values of the offerings.

The Thanh trà offering ritual in 2018 with the support of Hue Monuments Conservation Center was re-enacted methodically and meticulously in accordance with historical documents. The success of this festival has helped organizers and local communities to gain more experience and confidence to organize later festivals as well as similar festivals.

It is worth noting that Huế not only has such local famous products as Thanh trà of Thủy Biều, tangerine of Hương Cần, De rice of An Cựu... but also possesses special products of other localities in the whole country after inspecting quality and providing mark of “offering to emperors” right in the ancient capital. These products are clearly recorded in the documents of the Nguyen Dynasty. This has opened up a great prospect for businesses of Thừa Thiên Huế province to connect with other localities to study and select the most quintessential products, that used to have the brand “offering to emperors” in the past, to serve the tourism and service industry today.

The Thanh trà offering ritual in 2018 is just the beginning...

Story: Thanh Hai

Photos: Bao Minh