An image of the Phuc Giang School’s woodblocks (Photo: nhandan.com.vn)

Ha Tinh (VNA) – Central Ha Tinh province has planned different solutions to preserve and promote the Phuc Giang School’s woodblocks, following their recognition in May as UNESCO World Heritage at the seventh Memory of the World Committee for Asia and Pacific summit. 

The Phuc Giang School’s woodblocks were created by scholars of the Nguyen Huy family in Ha Tinh province in the 18th century. The blocks were used to print text books for the Phuc Giang School, which was located in the old Truong Luu village, Can Loc district.

The director of Ha Tinh Museum, Nguyen Tri Son, said it would cooperate with the National Library of Vietnam and the Institute of Literature to organise exhibitions of the woodblocks, translate them into Vietnamese and print them into books.

The People’s Committee of Can Loc district also plans to make Truong Luu a tourist cultural village, helping tourists to find out more about the village’s rich history and culture.

The Phuc Giang School’s woodblocks comprise of 379 well-preserved blocks to print textbooks, said Son. The total set used to number 2,000 blocks, but many have been damaged or destroyed over time. The blocks are rare, unique and contain valuable content. The two-century-year-old set of woodblocks forms the heritage of the Nguyen Huy family that has been preserved by the family’s descendants, he noted. They are the only ancient woodblocks created by a family for education preserved today in Vietnam.

In 1732, well-known scholar Nguyen Huy Oanh, built a local school in Truong Luu village to teach students. He also founded Phuc Giang library with thousands of books that he and his family collected over many years.

Thanks to Oanh’s deep knowledge, his teaching methods and the rich library, the school attracted a great number of students from different regions.

The contents of the woodblocks were composed by five cultural scholars of the Nguyen Huy family, who were teachers at the Quoc Tu Giam University, the country’s first university.

Nguyen Huy My, from the 16th generation of the Nguyen Huy family, said the woodblocks were carved using traditional techniques, and with words written in Chinese and Nom (a classical vernacular script of the Vietnamese language).

They reflect various values of the country concerning culture, education, economy, society and interference among different families.

Each woodblock, which is 20cm wide, 2cm thick and 30cm long is made of precious thi tree wood.

Son said, the Phuc Giang School’s woodblocks appeared before the woodblocks of the Nguyen Dynasty and those of Vinh Nghiem Pagoda in Bac Giang province. What make the Phuc Giang woodblocks special is that they belong to a family and they are still well preserved. The museum and the family Nguyen Huy have thought of solutions and materials to preserve the woodblocks.

Memory of the World Programme (MOW) was established by UNESCO in 1992 to raise awareness of the need to preserve documentary heritage in various parts of the world.

The other five Vietnamese items recognised in the Memory of the World Regional Register for Asia and Pacific list are Royal Literature on Hue Royal Architecture, the Nguyen Dynasty’s wooden blocks and the royal records, the Van Mieu stone stele and the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda woodblocks.-VNA