When the House of Tran held sway over the land many centuries ago, ruling from where the city of Nam Dinh now stands, it was standard practice for the king to abdicate when he turned 40 and pass the reins of power to his eldest son.
|Many tracks of architectual relics under the Tran dynasty were found|
The outgoing monarch would then depart the royal court and take up residence at Thien Truong Palace in nearby Tuc Mat. Since ceding power is hard to do, and since Junior would sometimes need to rely heavily on Daddy’s counsel, it was inevitable that Thien Truong would become a center of power, a second royal court in effect.
Now archaeologists excavating a 2,000-square-meter site where the palace stood have discovered the remains of a thirteenth-century hall called Trung Hoa, one of the two main buildings that housed the Second Court of the Tran Dynasty.
In one month of digging and sifting between Tran Temple and Thap Pagoda, the experts from the Vietnam Institute of Archaeology and Nam Dinh Museum have been well rewarded for their efforts.
“We’ve found heaps of relics, more than 10,000 already,” enthused one of them.
The most important finds have been made in three holes dug immediately to the west of Tran Temple. These include a baked-earth drainage system, floor tiles with carved Chinese characters, roof tiles shaped like lotus petals, phoenix-shaped roof tiles, and carved dragons.
The rest is mainly glazed and terracotta crockery and such, the most notable being some pearl glazed bowls and white glazed bowls bearing precise patterns. Their style is pure Tran Dynasty, without exception.
The town of Truc Mat was where the House of Tran first began to wield influence, and where the first Tran king was crowned in 1239, but it wasn’t until 1262 that the Trans decided to build a truly grand residence there for the retiring monarch.
According to historical documents and other sources, the most impressive buildings were Trung Quang (where the ex-king lived) and Trung Hoa (where affairs of state were discussed).
One of the archaeologists says that even though the excavation is not finished, there’s no doubt that they have uncovered the ruins of Trung Hoa.
Mr. Nguyen Anh Thu, the director of Nam Dinh Museum, says the dig is part of a Government-sponsored project to discover and preserve the heritage of the Tran Dynasty, a project that is meant to last until 2015.
But then he points out that the area being excavated is earmarked to become a commercial center called Dong A Square. So, will the archeologists’ discoveries force a change to the developers’ plans?
Hopefully yes, says Dr. Nguyen Xuan Nam, director of Nam Dinh’s Culture and Information Department. “We think everything should be preserved where it was found.”