UNESCO recognizes Vietnam's 19th century royal records

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A document from a set of administrative records that date back to the 19th century were recently recognized as a world documentary heritage by UNESCO / PHOTO COURTESY OF VNEXPRESS
A set of administrative documents from the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) has been named a world documentary heritage by UNESCO, the fourth such recognition Vietnam has won so far.
The records, known as “Chau ban trieu Nguyen” in Vietnamese, are now listed in the Asia – Pacific Register of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Program, Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reported Friday.
The recognition was announced at a meeting of the Asia – Pacific Regional Committee for the program in Guangzhou, China, on Wednesday.
According to the National Archives in Hanoi, the records amount to nearly 200,000 pages, including notices, circulars, and decrees issued during the reign of the 11 Nguyen emperors.
It is the sole set of surviving administrative documents maintained by a Vietnamese dynasty, a spokesman for the archives was quoted as saying.
The records are printed on handmade paper and bear the original seals of the kings and their agencies.
Prof. Phan Huy Le, chairman of the Vietnamese Association of Historical Sciences, told Thanh Nien that 19 documents reflect how the Nguyen kings applied their sovereign rights over the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) Archipelagos.
Every year, the kings sent naval forces to the archipelagos to collaborate with on-site military forces in conducting a variety of activities like mapping islands, surveying and exploring seaways, and exploiting resources, he said.
A series of documents issued in 1838 during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang, for instance, mentioned surveying trips to the Hoang Sa islands, said Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, director of Hue Monuments Conservation Center and a member of the panel that submitted the documents for the UNESCO recognition.
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