Vietnamese experts researching and evaluating the status quo and authenticity of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” (Emperor’s Treasure) gold seal. Photo: Administration of Culture and Heritage
On the evening of November 14, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism imparted information about the initial successful negotiation. Simultaneously, it agreed to implement the relevant legal process and procedures in order to repatriate the gold seal to Vietnam in accordance with the laws of the two countries.
Previously, on October 19, the Millon Auction House website (Paris, France) posted information that 329 antiques would be auctioned, including the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal cast by the Nguyen Dynasty in 1823 in the reign of Minh Mang (1820-1841), (lot No. 101, belonging to the "Vietnamese art" collection) at 11 a.m. on October 31, Paris time.
Well cognizant of the significance, importance, and historical, political, cultural, and artistic values of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal, with timely direction from the Government, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Public Security, and relevant agencies and organizations proactively and urgently sought solutions to "repatriate" the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal to the country.
Determining the solution through cultural diplomacy, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism developed the plan to "repatriate" the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal, consulted the ministries, sectors, and submitted to the Prime Minister for permission to implement and organize an interdisciplinary working delegation to negotiate directly with the Millon Auction House, taking steps in the roadmap for repatriating the gold seal.
Accordingly, the working delegation researched and evaluated the status quo and authenticity of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal currently kept at the Millon Auction House office (Paris, France). The result of research and comparison of documents determined that the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal currently up for auction at Millon Auction House is an original and accurate artifact, cast in the 4th year of Minh Mang (1823) as recorded in the history books (Đại Nam thực lục: Vietnamese chronicle of the dynasties of the Nguyen lords and the kings of the Nguyen dynasties, Khâm Định Đại Nam hội điển sự lệ: The book about the institution and operation of the state apparatus of the Nguyen Dynasty). In the minutes, the image of the French colonial government handing over the seal and sword to the Head of State Bao Dai on March 8, 1952, is currently kept at the National Archives Center I.
The “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal has many similarities with the two gold seals “Sắc mệnh chi bảo” (The wood-made emperor seal during the Tran dynasty) and “Hoàng đế tôn thân chi bảo” (The emperor seal cast in the 8 th year of Minh Mang), which are currently kept at the Vietnam National Museum of History. All 3 gold seals are cast in 10-year-old gold, crafted according to the same pattern: square seal face, 2-level back, meandering dragon-shaped strap, dragon forehead engraved with the word Vương (King), dragon legs with 5 distinct claws. The size and weight of the 3 gold seals are also similar. This is a form of seal that has never appeared in previous dynasties or countries in the region and the world.
Grounded on the results of determining the authenticity of the gold seal, the two sides agreed to transfer the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal to the Vietnamese side in the spirit of consensus, understanding between the two sides and the friendship cooperation tie between Vietnam and the French Republic. Simultaneously, they agreed to implement the relevant legal process and procedures in order to repatriate the gold seal to Vietnam in accordance with the laws of Vietnam and France.
The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism’s working delegation went to France to negotiate the repatriation of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal. Photo: Administration of Culture and Heritage
According to the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the negotiation between the two sides on the repatriation of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal achieved good success, correctly taking the steps in the roadmap to implement the Plan for the repatriation of antiques drawn up by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and submitted to the Prime Minister.
In the short run, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism together with relevant ministries, sectors, organizations, and individuals will keep making efforts to coordinate with Millon Auction House to carry out the procedure roadmap for repatriating the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal to Vietnam as soon as possible, in compliance with the legal regulations of the two countries.
The repatriation of the “Hoàng đế chi bảo” gold seal to Vietnam not only supplements and completes the collection of antiques, treasures, and cultural heritage lost and "bled" abroad but also affirms the correctness and prerequisite of our Party and State in terms of preserving, conservating, and promoting the value of cultural heritage. This satisfies the increasing demand for cultural enjoyment among the People, raising the national self-esteem of the young generation in the international arena, contributing to the formation and development of an advanced Vietnamese culture imbued with the national identity, and contributing to the treasure of world cultural heritage.
This is also a highly significant task to ensure the integrity of cultural heritage - a vital content to which UNESCO attaches great importance in cultural heritage conservation. Simultaneously, it manifests Vietnam's role in the implementation of international commitments in the international conventions to which Vietnam is a signatory.
By N. Minh