Ten Vietnamese royal honour-conferring edicts have been given back to the Vietnam History Association by American tourists.

According to historian Duong Trung Quoc, the American tourists bought the edicts and brought them to the US without knowledge of their meanings and historical values.

“By chance, the edicts were discovered by painter Trinh Bach, who has preserved and replicated many of the Nguyen dynasty’s royal costumes. When Bach explained the origins and meanings of the edicts, the American people wanted to give them back to Vietnam.”

The edicts, most of which were certified by different kings from the Nguyen dynasty, from 1802 to 1945, will be given back to the villages and communes where they were granted.

To give the edicts back to their true owners, the Vietnam History Association had to carefully examine the contents to learn about time, place, people and deities that were named in the edicts.

“However, changes in administrative systems have caused the extinction of many geographical names. That’s our main challenge in determining the exact villages and places which were granted the edicts,” Quoc said.

Quoc also said that some Vietnamese antique collectors still kept hundreds of royal honour-conferring edicts and had not intention of selling them to foreign tourists or collectors. The edicts were issued by the kings of different dynasties of Vietnam to introduce the people and deities who were to be worshipped inside the temples, and to certify their contributions to the nation.

The edicts have special meanings for the administrative systems of Vietnam’s society in the past, expressing the State’s power in lower administrative units.

The edicts were made from a special type of paper called “giay sac”, which was used only by kings to write their edicts. The paper was made from valuable materials, with the imperial symbols of the dragon and phoenix drawn from gold, silver and metal grains./.