The recent recognition of Vietnam’s Ho Dynasty Citadel by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage brought the number of world natural, cultural and documentary heritages possessed by Vietnam to 15.
Ho Dynasty Citadel by UNESCO as a world
Of the three world natural heritages, Halong Bay in the northern province of Quang Ninh was honoured as a wonderful masterpiece of nature with 1,969 islands.
With an outstanding landscape, the 1,553 sq. km bay was officially placed on the list of the World Natural Heritage by UNESCO in 1994. Six years later, it was recognised as a World Natural Heritage by the organisation for the second time for its geological and geomorphological values.
Boasting a unique beauty of limestone mountains, the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park in the central province of Quang Binh was included in the list of World Natural Heritage in 2003 for its geological and geomorphological values. It was also being proposed for inscription into the list for a second time, in terms of biological diversity.
Covering an area of 2,350 sq. km, Dong Van Stone Plateau in the northern province of Ha Giang is home to 45 geomorphological heritages, 33 tectonic heritages and numerous fossils in the sedimentary stone strata. The plateau was honoured by UNESCO in 2010.
To date Vietnam had ten world cultural heritages, including five tangible cultural ones – the imperial city of Hue, the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty which was recognised in 1993; Hoi An Old Quarters, a busy trading port between the 16 th century and the 19 th century and My Son holy land, the central prayer and worship ceremony place of Cham Pa reigns in the central province of Quang Nam recognised in 1999; Thang Long Royal Citadel, constructed by Vietnam’s dynasties which won the recognition in 2010; and the only stone citadel in Vietnam – the Citadel of the Ho Dynasty, which was recognised in 2011.
Five world intangible cultural heritages were Hue Royal court music recognised in 2003, the cultural space of gongs in the Central Highlands region in 2005, the Bac Ninh love duet folk music and the ceremonial singing in 2009, and the Giong festival in 2010.
Hue Royal court music was often played in royal festivals under the Nguyen Dynasty between the 17th century and the 19th century.
The cultural space of gongs in the Central Highlands was a special activity closely tied to community cultural rituals and ceremonies of ethnic groups in Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong provinces.
Meanwhile, with the diversified tunes and singing contents, love duet singing, often performed on the occasion of lunar New Year in villages, reflected the colourful life and outstanding cultural features of Kinh Bac people.
The ceremonial singing was an traditional genre of music featuring female vocalists who sang while playing music on bamboo tablets. It was especially popular in the 15th century.
The Giong festival was held annually in several parts of northern Vietnam, most typically in the Phu Dong and Soc Temples in Hanoi, to commemorate Saint Giong, one of the immortal quartet in Vietnamese legends.
Vietnam also had two UNESCO world documentary heritages, including 82 stone stelae engraved with names of doctorate holders during the Le and Mac dynasties (1442-1779) in the Temple of Literature .
The stelae were placed on the lists of the World Documentary Heritage in Asia-Pacific in 2010 and the World Memory in 2011.
Another heritage was the wood blocks used for rudimentary printing during the Nguyen dynasty era (1802-1945).
Apart from their historical values, the blocks were also artistically and technically precious, since they marked the beginning and development of wood-block carving and printing in Vietnam . They entered the list of the World Memory in 2009.