A 200 year old Sino-nom document dedicated to Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelago navy troops was recently found in the possession of a local family from central Quang Ngai province, according to a local cultural official.

Researcher Nguyen Dang Vu, Director of the Quang Ngai Culture, Sports and Tourism Department, came across the document among treasures collected by Diep Cong Thang, 88, from Son Tinh district.

The carefully preserved document consists of a speech read out at local ceremonies in tribute to navy soldiers who might die in the protection of the Truong Sa (Spratly) and Hoang Sa (Paracels) archipelagos.

The document was copied 80 years ago by Thang's father, Diep Cong Xung, from the original, written on do (poonah) paper, handed down from one generation to the next.

Thang confirmed that his ancestors had worked as shamans and often made use of the document, which covers everything from festive food, wine and samples of boats amongst others.
While Vu had found four similar documents on Ly Son Island, this is the first time that such a document has been found inland.

"Many researchers have been under the impression that the ceremony, dedicated to navy soldiers, was only common on Ly Son Island and in coastal areas," he said "With this discovery, I want to confirm that the same ceremony used to take place in even inland areas."

"People from many areas must have performed this ceremony as their sons joined the navy, especially during the Nguyen dynasty (18th to 19th centuries)," he added.

Nearly 200 years ago, the Nguyen dynasty established a special navy force, made up of strong coastal men, to travel to the Truong Sa and Hoang Sa archipelagos in order to measure, gather samples and affirm the nation's sovereignty over them.

Most of the men were drawn from Ly Son Island and Quang Ngai Province and had little hope of surviving the mission. Hence, before setting off, ceremonies were held to wish them luck./.