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Ancient woodblocks in Vietnam listed as UNESCO world documentary heritage

Monday, September 26, 2016, 17:29 GMT+7

A set of ancient woodblocks used in book printing in Vietnam has been recognized as world documentary heritage by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Committee for Asia and the Pacific.

The administration of Ha Tinh Province in the north-central region on Sunday held a ceremony to receive a certificate acknowledging the woodblocks of Phuc Giang School as UNESCO world documentary heritage.

The 250-year-old woodblocks are the oldest in existence, centered on the education of a family in Vietnam.

The woodblocks were handcrafted by scholars of the Nguyen Huy family together with a team of woodwork artisans in the mid-18th century with reference, amendment, and addition to classic Confucian textbooks.

Chinese and Nom (a logographic writing system used in Vietnam until the early 20th century) characters were reversely carved on the 2,000 woodblocks, which would then be used to print textbooks for teaching.

The 30cm x 20cm x 2cm woodblocks are made of the wood of ‘cay thi,’ a tropical tree popular in Vietnam and Chanthaburi Province, Thailand.

Speaking at the ceremony, Suzan Vize, acting chief of the UNESCO Office in Vietnam, expressed her admiration for the creativity hidden in the woodblocks and confirmed the uniqueness of the heritage owned by a family in Vietnam.

According to Le Ba Hanh, deputy director at the Museum of Ha Tinh Province, around 1,700 remaining woodblocks of Phuc Giang School were already transferred to the worship house of Nguyen Huy Tuu in the province’s Can Loc District for preservation.

However, most of the woodblocks were eventually used as fuel due to locals’ lack of knowledge of their historical value, Hanh said. A total of 383 woodblocks are still kept at the moment.

Đón bằng di sản tư liệu mộc bản Trường học Phúc Giang

The woodblocks of Phuc Giang School displayed at the ceremony in Ha Tinh Province on September 25, 2016. Photo: Tuoi Tre

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