UNESCO has recognised 82 stele commemorating the graduation of royal mandarins from the 15th to 18th centuries at Ha Noi's Temple of Literature as a Memory of the World.
HA NOI –
The stone stele records of royal examinations of the Le and Mac dynasties (1442-1779) were among 45 new documents and documentary collections from all over the world on the Memory of the World Register that were recommended by the international advisory committee of the Memory of the World programme.
The recommendations were endorsed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation director-general Irina Bokova on Wednesday, increasing numbers of a total of 238 items.
"By helping safeguard and share such a varied documentary heritage, UNESCO's Memory of the World programme reinforces the basis for scholarship and enjoyment of the creative wealth and diversity of human cultures and societies," Bokova said.
The Memory of the World Register covers all types of material and support, including stone, celluloid, parchment, audio recordings and more.
"The recognition is a great honour for all Vietnamese people," Viet Nam National Commission for UNESCO deputy general secretary Nguyen Manh Thang said.
"By naming Viet Nam's stele records as a Memory of the World, UNESCO also acknowledge Viet Nam's efforts to preserve and promote heritages to international community," Thang said.
The recognition would also help to raise the awareness in heritage preservation.
The 82 stele are inscribed with the names of 2,313 doctorate holders who passed the court examinations between 1442 and 1779 under the earlier Le Mac and later Le reigns.
The stele, which bear the names of Trang Nguyen, Bang Nhan, Tham Hoa, and Hoang Giap (the first, second, third and fourth winning categories at the royal competition), sit on top of stone turtles.
Temple of Literature director Dang Kim Ngoc said the stele were different from those in other Asian countries, including China which had influenced Vietnamese feudal education.
The stele were mainly rectangular slanted slabs while those in China had varied forms, including square slabs and cylinders, Ngoc said.
Also, the decorative patterns on Viet Nam's stele were more diverse.
The Temple of Literature was founded in 1070 as a Confucian temple. Parts of the temple date to the earliest period, although much of the architecture dates from the Ly (1010-1225) and Tran (1225-1400) dynasties, with the latest restoration conducted in 1999.
In 1076, Viet Nam's first university, the Quoc Tu Giam or Imperial Academy, was established within the temple to educate bureaucrats, nobles, royalty and the elite.
The university functioned from 1076 to 1779. The doctor laureate tests were extremely difficult, with few students passing the tests. Each year the names of those who did were engraved on the stele.
The stele records were also recognised last year as World Documentary Heritage by UNESCO's Memory of the World Committee for Asia and Pacific.
UNESCO launched the Memory of the World programme in 1992 to guard against collective amnesia through preservation of valuable archive holdings and library collections all over the world and ensuring their wide dissemination. – VNS