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Bac Giang: Ancient features still being kept

(BGO) - Among antique collectors in Bac Giang and northern provinces, Nguyen Long Giang (born in 1964) in Quang Chau village, Ngoc Chau commune (Tan Yen district, Bac Giang province) is very well known. Having a passion for antiques, he has been diligently collecting and preserving many ancient objects, contributing to conserving the forefathers’ legacy.

Predestined to antiques

In early spring, we visited Linh Giang Viet Palace on an area of more than 2,000 square meters in Quang Chau village. Different from the noisy atmosphere in Cao Thuong township, the space here is quiet but fascinated by ancient houses with tiled roofs, brick walls, rose windows, areca rows in the front of the porch, and collections with more than 2,000 antiques made of wood, stone, pottery, and porcelain in different periods which are well arranged by their owner. Those are mascots such as stone dogs, dragons and buffaloes placed in front of the porch; lime pots, betel containers, wine pots, Tho Ha and Chu Dau pottery jars, and ancient coins…

Bac Giang, Ancient features, being kept

Nguyen Long Giang introduces the ancient stone lotus platform collected from Hanoi.

Talking about his predestine to this hobby, Giang said: "My parents came here from Nam Dinh province to reclaim land about 80 years ago. During the process, their possessions were essential utensils for daily activities such as a lime pot for betel- areca nut chewing and a dozen of patterned ceramic bowls. Later, the life developed, the lime pot and the ceramic bowls were no longer in use, my parents also passed away. Those objects are carefully preserved by my family".

Graduating from high school, he learned goldsmithing, then set up a business and got married. In the process of interacting with customers, he heard stories about objects that seem to be normal but have a formidable attraction to him. In 2000, he officially entered the field of antique collection and national cultural research. In the world of antique collectors, usually each person specializes in a particular field. Some people like pottery, woodwork and stone items or collect watches, stamps and coins, but Giang himself held that he is a bit greedy because he has a passion for all things of ancient cultural heritage from the Ly, Tran and Le dynasties to the subsidy period.

Preserving heritages

Through war, time and geological changes, the heritages of the nation have been dispersed and damaged. Giang believed that heritages are national treasures, so he has the responsibility for helping preserve them for the next generations.

Bac Giang, Ancient features, being kept

Nguyen Long Giang and antiques displayed at Linh Giang Viet Palace.

Every hobby needs efforts. For antique collection, passion is not enough, but it also needs time, money and a "fate". In fact, the more precious the antiquity is, the greater its economic value is. Many artifacts are being kept in families, underground, on the seabed or on high mountains, so you will take a lot of efforts and time to get them. Many years ago, the collection and exchange of antiques took place, but people involved were quite discreet, quietly expressing their passion. Since the revised Law on Cultural Heritage in 2009 came into effect, he and others with the same hobby have increased the exchange and sharing of information and experience in heritage preservation, in order to have certain knowledge to avoid buying fake and stolen objects.

In his story, Giang repeatedly mentioned the difficulties since history books and documents in the country on antiques are very rare. For some books in Han-Nom scripts, he only understood them with support of someone knowledgeable in the field. The owner of Linh Giang Viet Palace humbly said that even though he has travelled a lot, read a lot and seen many antiques, his understanding of national culture is still at a certain level, so he always studies and consults researchers and his predecessors.

Each antiquity carries a story about the traditional customs of the nation. Taking us to the stone lotus platform located in the middle of the yard, Giang said: "This lotus platform has a diameter of 1.73 m and is placed at a depth of about 70 cm. I brought it home nearly 4 years ago during a visit to a filming location near the rocky bank of the Red River (Hanoi). When seeing the strange lotus platform carved from monolithic blue stone, having double petals with the image of a Buddha, and the curving dragon motif typical of the Ly dynasty, I loved it very much. Coming home, I couldn't sleep a few days. After my several comebacks, perhaps the garden owner "felt" my passion and appreciated me so he agreed to sell it to me.

If collectors want to distinguish and determine the value of each antiquity, they usually base on the motifs carved on the object, its material, the ceramic and enamel nature, and the shaping method. Studying many writings on culture and with practical experiences, he understood that each dynasty and period had different inheritance, interference and cultural characteristics, therefore their objects also had different materials, patterns, and shaping methods. If the pottery in the North is usually deep brown, that in the South is more colourful, mostly yellow, green, and red. In the new spring meeting with us, Director of the Bac Giang Museum Do Tuan Khoa said that he has visited Linh Giang Viet Palace for many times and highly valued the dedication of antique collector Nguyen Long Giang.

In order to promote the cultural value of these ancient treasures, Linh Giang Viet Palace recently opened its doors to welcome students and visitors to experience and take photos. It is also a meeting place for antique enthusiasts nationwide.

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Mai Toan

Bac Giang, Ancient features, being kept
 
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