Vietnam Temple of Literature Stone Steles in Memory of the World Register

By Lang Thang

On 26-May-2011, the Stone Steles of the Temple of Literature in Hanoi Vietnam, which are records of Royal Examinations of the Le and Mac Dynasties (1442-1779), were inscribed to the Memory of the World Register by the UNESCO. The 82 stone steles record names of the laureates of Royal Examinations of Le and Mac Dynasties were erected between 1484 and 1780 to commemorate the Royal Examinations held between 1442 and 1779.

Hanoi Temple of Literature
Hanoi Temple of Literature

 Each inscription contains details such as the date, the names and official posts of the inscription compilers, revisers, calligraphers, and engravers. Steles of each historic period are distinct from the others through features such as designs, decorative patterns, tortoise-shaped bases, and the type of Chinese characters used for their inscriptions preserve the stele's originality and prevent attempts to produce replicas.

Doctorate Stone Stele at Hanoi Temple of Literature
Doctorate Stone Stele at Hanoi Temple of Literature

The Stone Steles document and celebrate the training and recruiting the talented individuals under the Le and Mac Dynasties as well as other dynasties in Vietnam for hundreds of years. The first Royal Examination in Vietnam was held in 1776, at the same year when the first university of the country was built; and the last Royal Examination was held in the 19th century in Hue, Vietnam. But for many years, the erection of Stone Steles wasn't done by the Royal Court.

The UNESCO started the Memory of the World Programme in 1992 to help to protect precious documents, encouraging governments and individuals to better protect and promote documents of their heritage.