Centuries-old Books of the Nguyen Family See the Light of Day

Seventy books owned by one of Vietnam’s most famous families have turned up in Nghe An province more than 200 years after they were written.

Nguyen Du Memorial House in Tien Dien Commune, Nghi Xuan District, Ha Tinh Province.

The Nghi Xuan District Cultural Center in Ha Tinh, the next province to the north where many of the Nguyen Tien Dien family still live, is minding the books written in Chinese characters for now.

Scholars from the center found the books in the city of Vinh, where they were being kept by other members of the Nguyen Tien Dien family.

It’s a rare and valuable collection that contains the Nguyen’s handwritten copy of the masterpiece Truyen Kieu (the tale of Kieu) by the great poet and family member Nguyen Du.

There are also folk songs of Kieu in the original, a royal edict from King Duy Tan conferring vice-regal status on one Nguyen Cong Tru, manuscripts revealing the secrets of geography written by Nguyen Quynh, grandfather of the poet Nguyen Du, and an anthology of poems by Nguyen Duc Dat and others titled “Nam Son Tham Hoa”.

Many of the Nguyen Tien Dien family still live in Tien Dien, a commune in Nghi Xuan District where Nguyen Du was born and where stands a memorial to the great man.

The books in their entirety will be available for public perusal at the Nguyen Du Memorial House in Tien Dien. Some will be translated into Vietnamese.

For the few foreigners who are unaware of the fact, “Nguyen” is by far the commonest Vietnamese family name. 

By M.Ph – Translated by Kim Khanh

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