There is no trace of the paintings that vanished three years ago, but Nguyen Van Nhan's works can be seen in the nation's first book on ceremonial costumes of the Nguyen Dynasty released last week.

Researcher Tran Dinh Son's Dai Le Phuc Viet Nam Thoi Nguyen (Vietnamese Ceremonial Clothes under Nguyen Dynasty) (1802-1945) is divided into four parts: historical documents on Nguyen Dynasty costumes; photos of painter Nguyen Van Nhan's 54 works on ceremonial costumes at the An Nam Court; an index in French with illustrations of costumes for civil and military mandarins; and a picture collection of the dynasty's emperors, queen and courtiers.

Nhan's paintings are said to offer the most systematic and detailed picfures of costumes worn during the reigns of the Nguyen Dynasty - from the emperor, prince, princess, consorts, civil and military mandarins, to the uniform of royal music bands and servants.

The paintings were taken overseas and eventually auctioned by Eric Chaim Kline Bookseller, Santa Monica, California in 2011. Their current whereabouts are not known.

A Hue native, Son is a well-know researcher of ancient Vietnam's culture and art.

His previous books include Nhung Net Dan Thanh (Exquisite Brushstrokes) and Thuong Ngoan Do Su Kieu Thoi Nguyen (1802-1945) (Appreciating the Custom-made Pattern Porcelains During the Nguyen Dynasty).-VNA