Hué in time

Hué in time

About the Blog

What´s left of the Old Hué gives a vague idea of how the Citadel and Imperial City looked like during the times of the Nguyen dynasty. Was the city as enchanting as its remains are striking with their absence? What was the ideal of beauty? Who were the artists? Which details are authentic and what is much later translation of former splendor?
Presuming that I´m not the only person interested, adding the great outreach of internet, the blog may be a platform for us who want to know more and who have something to tell about the city of Hué. In time.

The Queen Mother´s Compound

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 14:15:12

This whole section was reserved for the Emperor´s Mother.


Interior of the "Dien Tho Cung" or the Main Palace, as it looks today. Tablets with names of the deceased, insence sticks, and, so appriopriate, fire distinguishers. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


Wives of the Emperor could be many but mother only one. The Queen Mother.

The title was granted to her to emphasize her prominent status. The fact of becoming a widow gave her even more influence than she had being "only" the emperor´s wife.

In fact, she could be one of the number of wives and not necessarily the most treasured by her husband. As a Queen Mother she became Number One within the category of living ancestors of the ruler. Along with her powerful position went quite luxurious commodities which she could enjoy within the Imperial City.

By the moment her son was elevated to the imperial throne, she moved from the Forbidden Purple City, giving place to a future daughter in law. To her disposal she had the whole north-western corner of the Imperial City´s area.

Since the father of the emperor could have (and in the most cases did) more than one wife, the actual mother of the monarch lived in this quarter together with other wives of the deceased husband.

The actual mother was called "The Maternal Empress" or "The First Queen Mother". Needless to say, there had been " the second", and probably "the third" queen staying in the cosy complex of wooden palaces.



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Tho Chi Gate

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 14:04:56


"Tho Chi" Gate seen from the Queen Mother´s compound. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012

The Queen Mother´s Quarter was right behind the walls of the Forbidden Purple City.

To enter the compound from the south one should cross over the long internal road flanked by trees, and walk through the Tho Chi gate, the most prominent one among all four gates leading to the area from different directions.

Section of the "Tho Chi" Gate decorated with images of phoenix, the traditional symbol of the female sphere within imperial realm. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012




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The screen wall

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 14:03:48


The first structure the visitor sees after entering the Queen Mother´s compound is the screen-wall decorated with paintings, reliefs, and mosaics. This wall protected the inhabitants of the quarter from the curious glances of the passers by.

Section of the screen-wall by the entrance to the Queens Mother compound. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012


Ducks and lotus leaf, detail of the decorative beoard running along the wall´s upper edge. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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Two outbuildings, non-extant

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 14:01:34


According to the imperial memoires of Bao Dai, there should be two outbuildings on each side of the Tho Chi gate but they are not there. Other source describes them as ”large houses situated amidst the Thuy Quang and Trinh Ung gates”.



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The main yard

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 14:00:23

Once on the inner side of the screen-wall, one enters a yard paved with tilling. Two grand old trees enrich the atmosphere and give some shade.

Yards behind the screen-wall in the Queen Mothers compound. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012

This yard is formed by the wall-screen, two ante-buildings on each short side, and the third one, facing the screen wall, Dien Tho palace which contained the principal apartments of the Queen Mother.

Having the wall behind the back, one has, on the left hand-side, Thong Minh Duong, the room for conversation. The second of these two mentioned ante-buildings, on one´s right hand-side, was once a waiting hall for those who were granted an audience with the Queen Mother. The structure is now in ruins.

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Tinh Minh Building

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:59:16


What the visitor sees today at this spot is the building called Tinh Minh. It was built in 1927 and replaced a wooden structure of Thong Minh Duong.

The present western-style version was used as a medical clinic for the Empress Thang Cung, the 1st wife of the Emperor Dong Khanh.

In 1950 the building was renovated and used as a private residence of the Emperor Bao Dai. It means that Bao Dai used the building, thus the Imperial City, after his abdication and overtaking the Imperial City by the Ho Chi Minh´s government.

The ”Tinh Minh” building replaced the ”Thong Minh Duong” conversation room. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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Dien Tho Cung

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:57:53


The third, and the most important structure around the yard was definitely Dien Tho Cung.

This building, called ”palace” served as a Queen Mothers apartment and audience hall.

It was constructed in 1804, at the very beginning of the Imperial City´s existence. It went through several renovations, some during the reign of the Nguyen dynasty, others carried by UNESCO.

The palace´s names were many through the times of the Nguyens.

Emperor Minh Menh called it Thu Tho,

emperor Thu Duc recalled it Gia Tho,

emperor Thanh Thai changed the name to Ninh Tho.

The current name was given to the palace by the emperor Khai Dinh.

The palace is rather small, dark and has its charm. The furniture and other objects gathered inside seem to be a rather spontaneous composition of what´s left after the turbulent times. Studying the decorative, symbolic details one finds the pieces ,which are more suitable for the compound inhabited by the man, not woman. This may be the subject of another article.

Here come some photos from the Dien Tho Palace:

Facade of the palace. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


Part of the Dien Tho palace´s interior. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


One of the lanterns at Dien Tho palace. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


On the wooden walls depictions of the Imperial Hué. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


In the background smaller room with some ancestral altars. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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Phuoc Tho Am Temple

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:56:32


Between the Dien Tho palace and the Tinh Minh building is a passage leading to another yard. This one is smaller and surrounded by the Phuoc Tho Am temple (Blissful Longevity) on the one side and the Tho Ninh palace, extension of the Dien Tho palace, on the other.

The Phuoc Tho Am temple, erected in 1831, is a two storey building on rectangular base. Wooden balcony surrounds the upper floor. The temple served both as a Buddhist temple and as a shrine. Queen Mother visited it on the first and the fifteen days of the lunar month an on the religious dates.

The second floor was known as Khuong Ninh pavilion.

The ”Phuoc Tho Am” temple. Photo: Robert Myslinski, March 2012


The ”Phuoc Tho Am” temple and the neighbouring smaller building. Possibly inhabited by monks. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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The monks´building?

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:54:27

Except the typical imperial symbols one may notice some Buddhist elements decorating the smaller building near by the temple.

Since the Queen Mother (or at least some of them) was obviously a frequent guests here, they might have allowed the monks to live in the quarter. But this needs farter enquiries.

Detail from the roof of the building neighbouring to the temple. One of the Eight Auspicious Symbol of Buddhism, the knot. Hence the idea of the monks living there. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012

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Two shrines, pond and the tree

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:52:57

Behind the temple there is a small pond with impressive tree in the middle. And two shrines on the opposite sides of it.

Backround of the temple, one of the small shrines and the pond. Photo: Krystyna Kirebinski, March 2012


One of the two shrines. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012

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Queen Mother´s Private Treasury

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:49:20

Passing through the Tho Ninh Hall from the South, turning left after leaving the building, one could reach the Queen Mother´s Private Treasury.

For the time being I do not have any photographs of this spot.



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Tho Ninh Hall

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Sun, February 17, 2013 13:04:11


This building, being an extension of the prestigious Dien Tho palace, as well as the Phuoc Tho Am temple, is facing the yard right behind Dien Tho.

From the Tho Ninh Hall one had access to the quarter´s kitchen and storage buildings.

”Tho Ninh” Hall. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012


Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012


The concave and convex roof-tiles mentioned on the information board were given their shape to emphasise the Yin and Yang elements.

The Yin is seen as concave, inward and hidden. The Yang, convex; forward and energetic.

"Tho Ninh" Hall´s roof. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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Truong Du Pavilion

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Mon, January 14, 2013 23:03:11


The Queen Mother´s refuge from the busy Dien Tho palace. Her place of leisure and "fresh air" as the information board below says.

Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



Surrounded by water, the beautiful wooden house, now silent and empty. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



The pavilion´s current interior and the view, the Queen Mother could enjoy far from her official duties. Photo:Robert Myslinski, March 2012



Wooden carvings at the ”Truong Du” pavilion. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



On the water´s surface water lilies, underneath: gold fishes. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



In the pond the rock garden, a miniature universe, wuth snall bridges, pagodas, praying eremites. In the background: remains of the Ta Tra building.. Photo: Krystyna Kiereninski, March 2012



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Ta Tra Waiting Hall

Imperial Hué, lower North WestPosted by Krystyna Kierebinski Mon, January 14, 2013 22:35:23


Situated near the eastern gate, one of four leading to Queen Mother´s compound, Ta Tra was a waiting hall for those who were granted the audience with the Queen Mother

Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012


Here is what´s left of the "Ta Tra". In the background the eatern gate of the compound. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, march 2012

From the Forbidden City and the Imperial Palace one could walk here whole the way under the wooden roof of the walking gallery. It is said that the Emperors, at least some of them, frequently visited their mothers. Queen Mothers were also consulted about various ceremonies by the eunuchs sent from the Emperor´s palace.

The Ta Tra building is going to be restored. The works will start in 2013.

http://hueimperialcity.com/1003/hue-to-restore-royal-palace/

Once again on the axial North-South road, deviding the Fobidden City from the Imperial one. Photo: Krystyna Kierebinski, March 2012



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