The provincial museum of the northern mountainous province of Son La has collected 1,094 ancient books of the Thai ethnic group, some of which have been translated into Vietnamese.

The books, which came in a variety of sizes, ranging from 15cm x 15cm to 50cm x 30cm, were not printed. Authors used brush and black Chinese ink to write on the Thai traditional paper called Do paper. The book covers are made either by cloth, animal skin or thick paper.

The books tell rich stories about the history and culture of the Thai people. The “Quam to muong Muong Muoi”, “Quam to muong Muong La” or “Quam to muong Muong Mua” recalled how the current Thai villages and communes were formed. The “Cuon Tay pu soc,” “Quam chuong han” and “Quam xoc Han Co Luong” wrote about how the Thai joined other ethnic groups in fighting foreign invaders.

There are also books recording official documents of village heads, giving an insight into the operation of the feudal administrative system in the old time.

Thai traditional customs and practices were recorded in some other books, as were detailed description of rituals such as marriage, funerals, completed with guides on how to choose good days for important activities and shamans’ prayers.

Not a few books are literary works, folk verses and songs and proverbs of the group, such as “Song chu son sao”, “Khun Lu-Nang Ua”, “San Luong-Inh Lai” and “Tao Hom-Nang Hai”. Some works of the Thai were based on Vietnamese and Chinese classics including Luu Binh-Duong Le, Tong Tran-Cuc Hoa and Three Kingdoms .

On the other hand, researchers said the books will help the study of the script of ancient Vietnamese people. According to leading historians and ethnologists including the late professors Tran Quoc Vuong and Tu Chi, the ancient Thai script was the “Khoa dau” script used by the Vietnamese during the time of the Hung Kings. Some quoted ancient records in China saying that a Hung King presented a big tortoise to Emperor Yao, with greetings in Khoa Dau carved on the animal’s shell.

The Son La museum has put on display some of the books, while the provincial Culture, Sport and Tourism Department has started a project on translating the books into Vietnamese.

Several books will be re-published in bilingual form (Thai-Vietnamese) in order to popularise the cultural treasure of the Thai ethnic group.-VNA