Culture Culture

14/11/2020 - 07:20

The young man with a passion for the ancient costume of the Nguyen Dynasty

Passionate about culture and history, especially ancient costume, the young man Tran Quang Minh Tan (born in 1990) from Bien Hoa, Dong Nai Province, tries to reproduce the ancient costume of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Tran Quang Minh Tan decided to settle down in Hue to develop his passion for the ancient costume of the Nguyen Dynasty

Passionate about the royal culture

In the program “Kindness” which introduced products of the young on September 27th in Hue, besides five-panel ao dai and ao dai Nhat Binh designed by Quang Hoa, many customers got excited with the unique royal accessories by Tran Quang Minh Tan.

They were ngoc boi (a kind of jewelry), kim khanh, boi tinh (types of medal) the bai (name badge) made of silver and brass, including first-class kim khanh, flowery kim khanh, Dai Nam long boi tinh (Dragon Cross), Xuan Thu hats for fifth-ranked military mandarins; they were all handmade.

Though majoring in Sociology at university, his passion for culture, history and ancient costume made him attach himself with reproducing ancient costume. He began with making five-panel ao dai and ao dai Nhat Binh six years ago, then changed to making accessories.

In order to make those accessories, Tan spent lots of time researching in books and documents. He even bought originals as samples and tried to reproduce them the best he could. Besides, he also learnt their own characteristics to distinguish them. 

Take kim khanh of the Nguyen Dynasty for example. Looking at it, one knows the rank of the wearer. Each dynasty used it in a different way. Besides, there were kim khanh for the populace and kim boi for women. Boi tinh (Cross) is of five types too; each with different characteristics. 

“The more I research, the more I found the ancient costume and accessories of the Nguyen Dynasty very tempting. They were very well embellished. Looking at them, one knows which dynasty they belonged to and the ranks of the wearers. Accessories were various too. Ancient costume and accessories also reveal the ups and downs of the age and the culture and aesthetics of the predecessors. We can learn many historical lessons from them,” said Tan.

Dai Nam Dragon Cross reproduced by Minh Tan

A source of inspiration for the young

Initially, Tran Quang Minh Tan made ancient costume which was well-liked by the young. He noticed that those who wore ancient costume wanted accessories to accompany but they were very rare or badly made in the market. Tan decided to make them himself. These accessories require energy and meticulousness and cannot be mass produced. Their cost is thus high. Luckily, he has his own customers, which allows him to pursuit his passion. 

Making this unique ancient costume is a big effort of Minh Tan. Initially, he just imitated the shape and color and found materials. After trying different methods and materials with lots of failures, Tan selected the best method and materials to make it look as close to the original as possible. 

According to Minh Tan, the hardest thing is to find materials because some of them are not produced any more. He therefore has to find others to replace or specially orders them, which increases the cost. In order to reproduce Dai nam Dragon Cross of silver and painted enamel, he had to go to Hue to cooperate with Do Huu Triet who makes painted enamel. 

For a month now, Minh Tan has cooperated with Quang Hoa to make ancient costume. It also gives him a chance to access artifacts and antiques on display at Hue Royal Museum of Antiquity to compare his products with originals and make adjustment. He also wants to inspire others and to bring to Hue the trend of returning to ancient costume. 

“At the moment, the movement of wearing ancient costume is developing in the North and the South. Hue is the cradle of ancient costume with many spots suitable for ancient costume but the movement is not very strong. I decided to come to Hue to cooperate with Quang Hoa to make ancient costume and accessories. Though I just make imitations, wearing ancient costume is a better experience than looking at artifacts in museums. People will therefore become more familiar with ancient costume,” said Tan.

Many young people get excited with ao dai Nhat Binh. They also want to know more about kim khanh and the bai. “Wearing ancient costume and very beautiful kim boi, I’m inspired to get to know more about the royal culture of the Nguyen Dynasty in particular and our national culture in general,” said Dieu Hoa with admiration.

Falling in love with this land, Minh Tan decided to settle down here in Hue to develop his passion for ancient costume. “If possible, I will set up a little showroom. Tourists can come to have a look or to experience the procedure of making royal costume. I think promoting royal costume in Hue is certainly more reasonable than other places.”

Story and photos: Cat An

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