Memory of the world



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MEMORY OF THE WORLD

Woodblocks used to print Buddhist sutras from the Truc Lam Zen Buddhist school of thought at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda

VietnamTóm tắt (Summary)

Ref N° 2010-32
PART A – ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

1. SUMMARY 

We hereby present the collection of Woodblocks used to print Buddhist Sutras from the Truc Lam Zen Buddhist school of thought at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda for nomination to the Memory of the World Register. Their exceptional content shows the formation, development, and ideology of this typical Vietnamese Buddhist school of thought as well as other books written by Buddhist monks. Their uniqueness further lies in that they are the only set of woodblocks that survived the First and Second Indochina Wars.

This collection, dated from the 19th and 20th centuries, consists of 3,050 woodblocks, currently stored at the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda located in Tri Yen Commune, Yen Dung District, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam. The content of this collection is based on the original Truc Lam Zen woodblocks used in mass printing of Buddhist texts in the 13th century that were destroyed or lost to war and weather. Notes with comments by Vietnamese monks were included in the blocks along with the texts from the sutras.

Truc Lam Zen Buddhism was established in the 13th century by three Vietnamese master monks: Điều Ngự Giác Hoàng Trần Nhân Tông, Pháp Loa Đồng Kiên Cương, and Huyền Quang Lý Đạo Tái. Their teachings combined Indian and Chinese Buddhist doctrines with contemporary Vietnamese social reality and ideology.

The basic idea behind this school of thought is tự lực (self-reliance: considering Buddha as self and believing in oneself, not depending on tha lực or external strength) and tùy duyên (or what is known in Buddhism as pratyaya, an indirect cause; living in harmony with nature, enjoying life on earth, reaching enlightenment, and helping others do the same).

It has become the cornerstone of Vietnamese resistance to foreign invaders. What is more, this school of thought is the only one in Viet Nam that teaches self-reliance–a basic principle to individual and collective behavior.

Viet Nam looks forward to UNESCO’s recognition of these woodblocks that will be used to educate citizens on how self-reliance and independence is intrinsically important to the country’s history and its implications in contemporary society.


2. DETAILS OF THE NOMINATOR

2.1 Name of nominator (person or organization)

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam



2.2 Relationship to the documentary heritage nominated

It is the provincial documentary heritage management agency,



2.3 Contact person(s)
Ms. Hoang Thi Hoa, Director

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam

Mr. Nguyen Van Phong, Deputy Chief Officer

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam



2.4 Contact details of authorities in charge of the nomination process (include address, phone, fax, email)

Ms. Hoang Thi Hoa, Director

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province

Address: 74 Nguyen Thi Luu, Ngo Quyen Commune, Bac Giang City, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam

Telephone: 84 240 3556 007

Cell phone: 84 912 174 317

Email: hoahtbg@gmail.com

Mr. Nguyen Van Phong, Deputy Chief Officer

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province

Address: 74 Nguyen Thi Luu, Ngo Quyen Commune, Bac Giang City, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam

Telephone: 84 240 3555 134

Cell phone: 84 912 558 539

Email: phongnv_vp69@yahoo.com.vn

Mr. Pham Sanh Chau

Secretary General of Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO

Address: 8 Khúc Hạo, Ba Đình, Hà Nội, Việt Nam

Telephone: 84 4 3799 3510

Cell phone: 84 904 999 945

Email: unescochau@yahoo.com
3 IDENTITY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE

3.1 Name and identification details of the items being nominated

Name: Woodblocks used to print Buddhist Sutras from the Truc Lam Zen Buddhism school of thought at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (In Vietnamese: Mộc bản kinh Phật Thiền phái Trúc Lâm Chùa Vĩnh Nghiêm)

Date: 1873 – 1935

Place: Vinh Nghiem Pagoda (Tri Yen Commune, Yen Dung District, Bac Giang Province)

Owner: Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, under the custody of the Provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, 71 Nguyen Thi Luu, Ngo Quyen Ward, Bac Giang City, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam.

Appendices:

Appendix No 1: Photographic documentation (photographs of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, woodblock storage cases, and blocks with primary teachings).

Appendix No 2: Printed documentation: a) Thiền tông bản hạnh, a book with footnotes printed on (paper made from a plant) and translated into Vietnamese and b) research books on Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and its woodblocks.

3.2 Description

(3.2.1) Description of woodblocks

Woodblocks, as a printing technology, were a practical solution to the problem of producing large quantities of texts yet also served as platforms for unique artistic and cultural expression. The collection in question is crafted on gỗ thị, a white, solid wood, smooth, easy to carve, durable, and weather resistant, commonly used in Vietnam for woodblocks. Although there are variations in the size of the woodblocks, most measure 33 cm x 23 cm x 2.5 cm. The blocks are also dyed black from the quantity of ink implied in frequent use. In the past, when there were no conservation techniques in place, this dried ink helped protect the blocks from water and moths.

The majority, but not all, of the blocks feature printing on both sides and have been engraved with Chinese and Nom (a classical vernacular script of Vietnamese language) characters in a mirror like fashion.

Depth of the engravings is approximately 1.5 mm, so prints on paper are very clear. And, every page in a book printed this way has a biên lan (border), a bản tâm (title in the centerfold), and ngư vĩ (blank corners). Usually the first or the last page of the book contains lạc khoản, which is a means of showing the date, artisan, and place of origin.



(3.2.2) Catalog or registration details

The collection consists of 3,050 woodblocks registered under the Catalogue number V.Ng.0001-V.Ng.3050, Bac Giang Museum inventory.



(3.2.3) Listing and register

From the 13th century to the beginning of the 20th century, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was one of the major publishing houses of Vietnamese Buddhist sutras. It is also where this set of woodblocks originated.

This collection of woodblocks was given the status of national heritage (Decision 29/VH-QD) on January 13, 1964. However, as this process took place during the Second Indochina War, a period in which records were lost and sub-national geographical divisions were redefined, it was registered again by the Bac Giang Museum – affiliated with the Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Bac Giang Province – in its 1994 inventory, and updated on three different occasions in 1999, 2003, and 2009.

After the 2003 inventory, the Bac Giang Museum published a 608 page book titled, Chốn tổ Vĩnh Nghiêm (The Vinh Nghiem Homeland),1 through which it introduced the collection and provided excerpts of original text in Chinese and Nom and their translations into Vietnamese (see attached photographs).

The Bac Giang Museum has done the work of classifying, encoding, and digitizing the woodblocks, which are still being used to reprint books using traditional techniques (on the “” paper, bound by threads and cậy tree gum). Now it is planning to publish a catalog containing the inventory of the digitized woodblocks (Danh mục kho Mộc bản số hóa) and of books reprinted from them (Danh mục sách được in ra từ kho Mộc bản).

(3.2.4) Conservation condition

The few woodblocks dating before the 19th century that have been discovered unfortunately do not belong to a coherent set. They are solitary pages from different sutras, and up to now the knowhow for assigning them with certainty to a specific book is not available. Therefore, all 3,050 woodblocks currently registered were crafted in the 19th and 20th centuries.

In the past, woodblocks were placed on bookshelves in the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda’s storage room. At the beginning of the 20th century, however, the abbot there had craftsmen build seven ironwood chests in which the woodblocks were placed. The two three-shelf chests (280 centimeters high, 405 centimeters long and 116 centimeters wide) are in the front hall of the pagoda, four two-shelf chests (177 centimeters high, 135 centimeters long and 45 centimeters wide) are in the central hall, and another small chest is in the hall dedicated to the First Patriarch.

The chest bottoms stand 60 centimeters above the ground, and they are secured with a special lock that can only be opened by the abbot. The condition of the woodblocks is checked on a regular basis during the year, and at times, they are taken out of the chests and placed in the shade on sunny days to ensure they are kept dry and moisture free.

Although this conservation technique may appear rather simple, the woodblocks remain nearly in perfect condition due to a) the quality of the thị wood, b) the thick layer of dried ink on the surface, and c) their capacity to resist humidity and moths. The locked chests were fundamental in safeguarding these treasures during the First Indochina War from 1946 to 1954.

(3.2.5) Bibliography

(3.2.5.1) Books produced with the woodblocks that contain information on the philosophy described in the woodblocks:

The 3,050 woodblocks were used to print ten book titles, of which seven are complete. Here are those titles:



  • Tì khâu ni giới, Year 34 of King Tự Đức’s regime (1881)

  • Giới luật kinh, Year 34 of King Tự Đức’s regime (1881)

  • Đại phương quảng phật Hoa Nghiêm kinh, Year 37 of King Tự Đức’s regime (1884)

  • Kính tín lục, Year 39 of Tự Đức’s regime (1886)

  • Yên Tử nhật trình, Year 7 of King Bảo Đại’s regime (1932)

  • Thiền tông bản hạnh, Year 7 of King Bảo Đại’s regime (1932)

  • Đại thừa chỉ quán, Year 10 of King Bảo Đại’s regime (1935)

(3.2.5.2) Bibliography references for the nomination:

[1] Đại Việt sử ký toàn thư: Bản in nội các quan bản, Mộc bản khắc năm Chính Hòa thứ 18 (1697), 3 Volumes, Ha Noi : Social Science Publishing House

[2] Henri Oger (Edition 2009: Oliver Tessier, Philippe Le Failler), 2009 (1909), Technique de peuple Annamite (Techniques of the Annamites/Kỹ thuật của người An Nam), Ecole Francaise D’Extrême-Orient.

[3] Mai Hồng, Nguyễn Hữu Mùi, 1989, “Tìm hiểu nghề in của ta qua kho sách Hán Nôm”, Sino-Nom Magazine Number 1, 1986.

[4] Lâm Giang, Nguyễn Đình Bưu (Chủ biên), 2003, Địa chí Bắc Giang di sản Hán Nôm. Bắc Giang: Department of Culture and Information of Bac Giang Province.

[5] Nguyễn Đặng Văn, Nguyễn Thanh Diên, 2001, “Bước đầu tìm hiểu kho ván in ở chùa Vinh Nghiem (Bắc Giang)”, Thông báo Hán Nôm học 2000 (trang 558 - 564), Ha Noi: Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences.

[6] Nguyễn Lang, 1992, Việt Nam Phật giáo sử luận (2 tập), Hà Nội: Literature Publishing House.

[7] Nguyễn Quang Ân, Nguyễn Xuân Cần (Chủ biên), 2002, Địa chí Bắc Giang - Từ điển, Hà Nội: Department of Culture and Information of Bac Giang Province; UNESCO Centre for Historical and Cultural Documentation of Viet Nam.

[8] Nguyễn Tài Thu (Chủ biên), 1988, Lịch sử Phật giáo Việt Nam, Hà Nội: Social Science Publishing House.

[9] Nguyen Tai Thu (Edited), 1992, History of Buddhism in Vietnam, Hanoi: Social Sciences Publishing House.

[10] Nguyễn Văn Phong, 2005, “Kho Mộc thư chùa Vinh Nghiem với giá trị văn hóa“, Sino-Nom Magazine number 5, 2005

[11] Nguyễn Xuân Cần (Chủ biên), 2004, Chốn tổ Vinh Nghiem, Bắc Giang: Bac Giang Museum (608 pages).

[12] Nhóm Nôm Na (Hội Bảo tồn di sản chữ Nôm), 2004, Quy trình Nôm Na: “Giúp đọc Nôm và Hán Việt” và chữ Nôm trên mạng, International Summit of Nom in 2004, Ha Noi.

http://www.nomfoundation.org/vnpf/Conf2004/Papers/Nom%20na%20-%20Quy%20trinh%20Nom%20Na.pdf

[13] Phan Đình Nham (Chủ biên), 2004, Mộc bản triều Nguyễn đề mục tổng quan. Hà Nội: Cultural Information Publishing House.

[14] Thích Thanh Từ, 1997, Tam tổ Truc Lamgiảng giải. Thuong Chieu Zen Monastery.

[15] Thích Thanh Từ, 1999, Thiền sư Việt Nam, Hochiminh City: Hochiminh City Publishing House

[16] Thích Thanh Từ, 2002, Hai quãng đời của sư tổ Trúc Lâm. Hà Nội: Religion Publishing House

[17] Thích Thanh Từ và những người khác, 2003, Thiền học đời Trần. Hà Nội: Religion Publishing House.

[18] Trần Văn Giáp, 1932, “Le bouddhisme en Annam des origines au 13e siècle”. BEFEO, Vol 32, p. 191 - 268

[19] Trịnh Như Tấu, 1937, Bắc Giang địa chí. Hà Nội: Nhật Nham

[20] Viện Triết học, 1988, Lịch sử Phật giáo Việt Nam. Hà Nội: Social Science Publishing House
(3.2.6) Names, qualifications and contact details of up to three independent people or organizations with expert knowledge on the values and provenance of the documentary heritage

Professor Dr. Ngo Duc Thinh, Director, Center for Research and Conservation of Culture and Belief, Federation of UNESCO Clubs

Telephone: 84 4 3726 1790

Cell phone: 84 91 323 4452

Email: thinhdangian@yahoo.com



Assistant Professor Dr. Nguyen Tuan Thinh, Former Head of the Department of Sino-Nom, Faculty of Literature, National University, Hanoi, Vietnam

Telephone: (04) 3821.3243

Cell phone: 090.415.8364

Email: nv.thinh@yahoo.com.vn



Assistant Professor Dr. Nguyen Tai Thu, Institute of Philosophy, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences

Telephone: (04) 3514.0528

Cell phone: 098.389.8068
4. JUSTIFICATION FOR INCLUSION/ ASSESSMENT AGAINST CRITERIA


    1. Is authenticity established?

Buddhist-sutras have been printed at the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda since the 13th century, a fact verified in the following historical texts: a) Đại Việt sử kí toàn thư (Complete Annals of Đại Việt),2 b) the book Truyền đăng (The Transmission of Lamp), and c) Thực lục (Chronicles) of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism (Tam tổ thực lục, Tam tổ truyền đăng, Đại Nam thiền uyển kế đăng lục.3

Each woodblock contains the date when it was created (lạc khoản), and based on a review of these dates, it has been determined that this collection of woodblocks was produced between 1873 and 1935.

In addition, the Sino-Nom archive at the Institute of Sino-Nom Studies, which was formerly the library of l'Ecole Française d'Extrème Orient, established by the French in early 20th century, contains seven Buddhist sutras produced from these very woodblocks. According to their lạc khoản, the specific woodblocks used to print them were made between 1881 and 1932. Nevertheless, woodblocks were no longer produced and the skill to produce them was lost after 1935.

According to the abbot, the woodblocks have not left the pagoda, evidence for this fact coming from the chronicle of movements in and out of the pagoda. Furthermore, only the abbot has access to the key for the cabinets containing the woodblocks. Tóm tắt (Summary)



4.2. Is world significance, uniqueness and irreplaceability established?

(4.2.1) Significance

Truc Lam Zen Buddhism marked the “Vietnamization” of Buddhism originally coming from India and China. As indicated previously in this document, Buddhist sutras printed with the woodblocks at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda show the teaching of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism.

The establishment of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism played an important role in Vietnam, especially during wartime. The philosophy here contained reflected the spirit of tự lực (self-reliance) and tùy duyên (pratyaya or indirect cause), which means to consider Buddha as self, believe in oneself without being negatively influenced by mysterious forces, be optimistic and harmonious with nature. And this school of thought is quite different from the Indian and Chinese version that Vietnam used to follow.

At that time, some other original Zen schools of Buddhist thought were established in East Asia, and they also emphasized the teaching of tự lực (self-reliance). These included: the Rinzai founded by Eisai (1114-1215) and the Soto founded by Dogen (1200-1253) in Japan, and the Jogye founded by Junul (1158-1210) in Korea. As did Japan, Vietnam used Buddhism to unite its people and to ward off successfully the Mongol invaders in three different wars during the 13th century.

The Truc Lam Zen Buddhism woodblocks also marked a transition in the writing system, one that saw a move away from Chinese characters and towards Nom. Up till then, Nom had been sporadically used, but Truc Lam monks started systematically using it in their teaching, which was written lyrically in order for the public to grasp their teachings more easily.

These teachings were not direct translations of scripts in Sanskrit or Chinese but rather were short poems or stories interpreted from a Vietnamese perspective.

Interestingly, the Vietnamese Nom Preservation Foundation used scripts from the book, Thiền tông bản hạnh, which is part of the woodblock collection at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, to create a universal font for Nom in Unicode (NomNaTongLight.ttf).

(4.2.2) Uniqueness

According to historical texts produced by the Imperial Court in Vietnam and by Truc Lam Zen monks, Buddhist sutras were also printed at Quynh Lam and Long Dong pagodas in the Quang Ninh province. However, those woodblocks were lost, leaving this collection as the only heritage preserved to date.



(4.2.3) Irreplaceability

Woodblock production techniques were complex because artisans had to invest much time, effort, and creativity in fashioning the detailed characters, not to mention engraving them in a mirrored fashion. Unfortunately, these techniques were lost when their production was discontinued because of modern day technology. Also, most of the artisans were farmers who decided to go back to farming and therefore did not transmit the information for engraving them to the next generation. In addition, Romanized Vietnamese was made the official writing system in 1945, putting an end to the Nom system.



    1. Is one or more of the criteria of (a) time (b) place (c) people (d) subject and theme (e) form and style (f) social, spiritual and community significance satisfied?

      1. Time

According to Đại Nam thiền uyển truyền đăng lục4 and other historical records written by the Imperial Court, the golden age of the Truc Lam Zen school of thought began in the 13th century – when it was officially formed by three patriarchs and ended with the fall of the Vietnamese Tran Dynasty (1400).

During that time, the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was chosen to be the Dai Viet Buddhism Association training center. (Dai Viet was the name of Vietnam at that time). Woodblock production began in order to meet the need of textbooks for the training center.

During the Tran Dynasty, whose administrative capital was Thang Long, Vietnamese revered Mount Yen Tu as the religious capital, and the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda was at its heart, located in what is today the Quang Ninh and Bac Giang provinces. The Truc Lam Zen school of thought became very popular and attracted many followers then, and as a result the Vietnamese people respected Buddhism and began constructing Buddhist temples throughout the country. Truc Lam Zen is also an important means of producing empathy for others and of helping politicians apply simple, people-oriented, and peaceful policies toward neighboring countries, like Champa or Laos.

Under the rule of the Chinese Ming (1407-1427) who invaded the country putting an end to the Tran Dynasty, Truc Lam Zen school of thought was deeply impacted by that administration’s assimilation policy. Most Buddhist documents, including woodblocks produced at the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda before 1400, were destroyed by the Ming to avoid dissemination of the Vietnamese ideology.

In 1428, once the country had freed itself from the Ming Dynasty, the Le Dynasty chose Confucianism as Vietnam’s national religion, and the popularity of Buddhism began to decline amidst the elite although it still was practiced by the people. Between 1428 and the 19th Century, Truc Lam Zen Buddhism did not produce any influential leaders.

In the 19th century, Truc Lam Zen experienced a rebirth, resulting in a new collection of woodblocks being fashioned to meet the people’s increasing demand for learning more about it. The dissemination of this self-reliant philosophy generated positive impacts during the First Indochina War (1946-1954) and the Second Indochina War (1955-1975).

Since 1986 and the implementation of a more favorable open market economic reform policy, Truc Lam Zen Buddhism has continued to evolve. Many temples have been built in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of Lam Dong, Vinh Phuc, and Quang Ninh) and overseas (France, etc).

Since raising awareness on this philosophy and because the use of the woodblocks is important, now is the time to implement adequate conservation measures and to exhibit the woodblocks properly.



      1. Place

The Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, constructed at the beginning of Ly Dynasty in the 11th century and enlarged during the Tran Dynasty (13th-14th centuries), became a training centre for Truc Lam Zen followers. Ravaged by war and restored from time to time, the pagoda’s current architecture follows the late Le and Nguyen Dynasties’ styles (17th to early 20th centuries). In the late 19th and early 20th century, the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda became an important Buddhist publishing house in Vietnam. This is the direct origin of the contemporary woodblocks archive.

From 1945 until present day, the pagoda has been restored with financial contributions from the government of Vietnam. As indicated previously, in 1964, while the war was still going on, the government designated the pagoda, together with its collection of woodblocks, as national heritage (Decision 29/VH-QD dated 13 January 1964).



      1. People

The following are the main figures in the development of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism as well as creation and use of woodblocks.

Điều Ngự Giác Hoàng Trần Nhân Tông (1258-1308): An Emperor of Tran Dynasty, First Patriarch of Truc Lam Zen.

Being the eldest son of Emperor Tran Thanh Tong, he was declared crown prince at 16. Yet, he was also a devout Buddhist and set his mind on becoming a monk. So, he escaped to Mount Yen Tu, but his father forced his return where he finally took over the crown when he was 21. Although he was emperor, he was determined to follow Zen Buddhism and so embraced its philosophy that helped him lead the Vietnamese against the invading Mongolian Empire (later called Yuan Dynasty). By applying Buddhist ideas of peace, he established peaceful and open policies with neighboring countries like Champa and Laos.

Tran Nhan Tong abdicated in favor of his son, Tran Anh Tong, in 1293 and in 1299 moved to Mount Yen Tu to continue his spiritual life. He admitted thousands of disciples into the school and propagated Buddhism. After his death, he was recognized as The First Patriarch of Truc Lam Zen due to his effort to unite Vietnamese Buddhism.

Phap Loa Ly Dao Tai (1284-1330): The Second Patriarch of Truc Lam Zen launched the production of the woodblocks and the printing of Buddhist texts at the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda during the 14th century.

He left home when he was young and lived in the Buddhist temple as a disciple of Tran Nhan Tong. When he was 24, he became leader of the Buddhists Association of Dai Viet after Tran Nhan Tong stepped down. He then transformed the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda into the Dai Viet Buddhism Association training center and was responsible for teaching lower level monks, promoting woodblock production to print texts for teaching purposes. He himself also compiled many books, which were handed down to posterity.



Thich Thanh Hanh (1840-1936): Vinh Nghiem Pagoda’s abbot, he organized woodblock fashioning and Buddhism text printings at Vinh Nghiem Pagoda from 1873 to 1935.

He begged his parents for approval to leave his home and was accepted as a novice at the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda when he was only 10 years old. He officially became a monk when he was 20 years old. When he was 30, he took on the task of teaching the commandments and classic Buddhist documents during the summer retreat. Finally, when he was 60 years old, he became leader of the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda at which time he was responsible for consecutively organizing the new woodblock collection based on 13th century texts kept. In 1935, when he was 90, he established the United Buddhist Association of Vietnam and became its leader.



Wood engravers: Woodblock engravers came from villages in Bac Giang, Bac Ninh, and Hai Duong provinces and were responsible for these steps in the production process: wood selection, block cutting, engraving, and decorating.

Between crop seasons, Vinh Nghiem Pagoda monks invited wood engravers to stay at the pagoda, and to become directly involved in engraving the blocks. They organized workshops to train them and supervised the work in progress.

The names of major wood engravers are carved on the woodblocks. Two outstanding engravers from the early 20th Century were Nguyen Nhan Minh and Pho Nen.


      1. Subject and Theme

Vinh Nghiem Pagoda woodblocks adapted Chinese and Indian Buddhist doctrines to the Vietnamese context and express the two previously mentioned main themes of tự lực and tùy duyên. Tự lực refers to self-reliance and tùy duyên is the philosophy of living in harmony with nature and society. These themes are reflected consistently in all of the woodblocks, advocating the Vietnamese Buddhism throughout centuries.

      1. Forms and style

See section 3.2 Description, section (3.2.1) Description of woodblocks.

      1. Social, spiritual and community significance

Before the establishment of this school of thought, Buddhism was confined to royal families and high-ranking officials. However, with the creation of these woodblocks the doors to Buddhism were opened to the people. It also provided a sense of solidarity, which was essential when Vietnam fought against foreign invaders.

    1. Are there issues of rarity, integrity, threat and management that relate to this nomination?

(4.4.1) Rarity

See section (4.2.2) Uniqueness



(4.4.2) Integrity

Out of the 3,050 woodblocks, there are seven complete sets corresponding to seven different books. There are also partial sets related to three others. All 10 books are fortunately available in printed form.



(4.4.3) Threats

Built in the 11th Century, the pagoda is one of the oldest in Vietnam that contains valuable historical and cultural assets and is therefore subject to looting. Other threats include high humidity and excessive use of incense that can easily lead to fire.



(4.4.4) Management

There are two levels of management: one at the pagoda, headed by the abbot, and one at the Provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, a branch of the Vietnam Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. Both levels require specialized training on woodblock conservation and handling as well as increased capacity on raising visitor awareness on the unique value the collection holds.


5. LEGAL INFORMATION

5.1. Owner of the documentary heritage (name and contact details)

Nước Cộng hòa Xã hội Chủ nghĩa Việt nam

Socialist Republic of Vietnam



5.2 Custodian of the documentary heritage (name and contact details, if different to owner)

Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province

Address: 74 Nguyen Thi Luu, Ngo Quyen Commune, Bac Giang City, Bac Giang Province

Telephone: (0240) 3556.007

Cell phone: 0912.174.317

Email: hoaht_svhttdl@bacgiang.gov.vn



5.3 Legal status

(a) Category of ownership: State owner

(b) Accessibility: Current limited accessibility: for research purposes only

(c) Copyright status: No copyright registered

(d) Responsible administration: Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Bac Giang

(e) Other factors: N/A


6. MANAGEMENT PLAN

    1. Is there a management plan in existence for this documentary heritage?

Woodblock management and conservation plans are contained within the annual Bac Giang Museum work plans. This entity is under the Provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism of Bac Giang.

In previous years, the museum has implemented the following activities as part of their work plan:



  • Assessing status of woodblock collection;

  • Inventorying and classifying the woodblocks;

  • Coding and arranging woodblocks scientifically for easier management, conservation, and use;

  • Printing three copies of the sutras (using the blocks), which were bound using traditional technology, and summarizing their content;

  • Producing photographs, videos, and digitalization of these materials for woodblock safeguarding and management.

Financial assistance to implement these activities has been provided by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism of Viet Nam. The total fund was USD 16,000.00 in 2009 and USD 12,000.00 in 2010.

In upcoming years, the department will conduct the following activities:



  • Transcribing, translating into Vietnamese, and publishing woodblock contents;

  • Replicating original woodblocks for display purpose;

  • Raising awareness of their values through the media;

  • Organizing training courses on woodblock preservation;

  • Organizing visits by students for increased understanding of their importance;

  • Combining modern and ancient preservation technologies for future preservation activities.


7. CONSULTATION

7.1 Provide details of consultation about this nomination with (a) the owner of the heritage (b) the custodian and (c) your national or regional Memory of the World Committee

  • Three independent experts (as indicated in section 3.2.6) have been closely consulted during the writing of the nomination file;

  • A scientific committee under the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences reviewed the nomination file and its recommendations were incorporated in this version;

  • The National Heritage Committee evaluated and approved the nomination file.


PART B – SUBSIDIARY INFORMATION

8. ASSESSMENT OF RISK

8.1 Detail the nature and scope of threats to this documentary heritage

As indicated in Section 4.4, high humidity and lack of modern conservation techniques are the most prominent risks facing the collection. While the woodblocks are kept inside chests, these are not placed within an adequate storage area, hence the need for funds to improve the technology used in conserving them, i.e. temperature, humidity, and insect controls, theft prevention, etc. Likewise, museum staff and monks require training on the proper handling of the woodblocks to ensure their future preservation.


9. ASSESSMENT OF PRESERVATION

9.1 Detail the preservation context of the documentary heritage

The Vinh Nghiem Pagoda, local authorities, and the Bac Giang Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism have put forth significant effort in preserving the collection of woodblocks. However, the need for it to be sustainably and efficiently preserved has not been met. The Bac Giang Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is seeking technical and financial assistance to apply modern preservation technologies. For more details please see 3.2. Description, section (3.2.4) Conservation condition.


PART C – LODGEMENT

This nomination is lodged by:



Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Bac Giang Province, Vietnam
(Please print name): HOÀNG THỊ HOA …………………………………………………...
(Signature)…………………………………
(Date)………………………………………


1 See point 11 in bibliography

2 See point 1 in bibliography

3 See points 9, 10, and 11 in bibliography

4 See points 9 and 10 in bibliography





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