The 82 stelae- the World Documentary Heritage are considered stone history books that honour the most brilliant doctoral laureates of Vietnam and serve as the books that teach people the way how to govern their country and to have good behaviour. the texts on stelae are spectacular results produced by great minds of the nation over a period of approximately 300 years. As the result, nowadays, culture administrators and community need to take the responsibility for the conservation and promotion of heritage value
In 1484, the King Le Thanh Tong ordered the erection of the first ten stone stelae which recorded names and birthplaces of doctoral laureates. This tradition continued until 1780.
Each stele is carved with a Chinese text which clearly indicates names and birthplaces of doctoral laureates, the year when the exam was held, the merits of the contemporary king, the significance for holding the exams, and the mandarins who held the exam on the King’s authority. In addition, the names of stelae erectors were mentioned as well.
Visitors at the Garden of Stelae
The 82 stone stelae which were carved with Chinese texts reflect deep philosophical values, the traditional fondness for learning, the respect for teachers and the appreciation towards the talented among Vietnamese people. In May 2011, the 82 stelae were recognized as The World Documentary Heritage by UNESCO. Later in 2012, these stelae were recognized as National Precious Objects by President of Vietnam. These important recognitions placed the responsibility for stelae conservation on Vietnamese Government.
It is necessary that the value of heritage be conserved and displayed. Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam is situated in the middle of a crowded city and surrounded by 4 streets. Every day, the landmark welcomes thousands of domestic and foreign visitors who come to visit or do researches. The urban environment and the severe weather conditions of North Vietnam make it more difficult for the stelae to be conserved.
Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam received World Documentary Heritage Certificate from UNESCO
In 1994, the Center began the construction of 8 wooden houses to protect the stelae from objective or subjective impact, Metal barriers, signposts, and panels to introduce the stelae to visitors have since been installed.
The houses and stelae have been always maintained. Every day, the houses are cleaned, and the wooden components are regularly sprayed with insecticides. The surrounding areas are decorated with a variety of flowers, which helps to increase the visitors’ awareness of the value of the 82 stelae.
A variety of activities have been carried out to illustrate the significance of the 82 stelae. For example, a large number of exhibitions were held in other regions to introduce the stelae to the local communities, the Chinese texts on stelae were translated into Vietnamese or English, and previous publications about the relics were modified to better appeal to the interests of visitors. Apart from brochures, the Center introduced two publications about Van Mieu_Quoc Tu Giam and the 82 stone stelae in two languages: Vietnamese and English. Futhermore, an introduction about the 82 stelae is provided on the official website: Vanmieu.gov.vn.
For cultural heritage education and guided tours, the Center attaches special importance to promoting the value of the stelae, and the traditional respect for teachers and talented people. When working with schools to carry out educational programs these values help students understand the significance of the stelae. With a greater understanding of the importance of the stelae, visitors are willing to take responsibility for cultural heritage conservation.
In the long term, the above-mentioned measures will be taken simultaneously to conserve and promote the value of the stelae, and this definitely helps to make the landmark more appealing and apparently make considerable contribution to the sustainable development of the nation.
Translator: Chuong Van