Month: April 2015

Royal rickshaw comes home, to be displayed in central Vietnam

“Royal rickshaw comes home, to be displayed in central Vietnam”

via “Tuoi Tre News”

A rickshaw which belonged to a king of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), Vietnam’s last monarchy, has finally arrived home after some 100 years being away and will be put on display in the central region next week as a happy ending for insiders’ unprecedentedly concerted efforts.

The rickshaw, which was gifted by King Thanh Thai (1879-1954), the 10th king of the Nguyen Dynasty, to his mother during his lifetime, is considered a royal treasure which is highly cherished for its technical, aesthetic, cultural, and historical value.

The prized item was custom-made from “trac” wood encrusted with conch and boasts sophisticated carvings.

The rickshaw will be displayed at an exhibition, which is poised to run on Wednesday at Dien Tho Palace, part of the UNESCO-recognized Complex of Monuments in Hue City.

The palace is a prominent highlight in Hue, the capital city of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

The homecoming is the fruit of Vietnamese culture authorities’ campaign, with the leader of a Paris-based museum giving up its legal right to purchase the object and fund-raising efforts.

At an auction in Tours, France on June 13, 2014 of various treasured items, including King Thanh Thai’s rickshaw, Vietnam’s people won the bid for the vehicle for €45,000. The item fetched €55,800 including organization fees.

In an unexpected twist, Katia Mollet, a curator of the Guimet Museum, declared that France had the right to buy the rickshaw for the same price.

State-run organizations in France were entitled by law to purchase the items at the same price as that offered by the auction winners.

The Vietnam Embassy in France and Vietnamese culture authorities persevered in talking the French museum’s leader out of the intention, and sought for support from French cultural agencies and experts on Vietnamese culture for Vietnam’s bid to purchase the rickshaw.

Some days following the auction, the Guimet Museum, which is well known for its painstaking conservation of a number of Vietnamese artifacts and has helped promote them through its exhibits, gave up its right to buy the rickshaw.

Buu Y, a respected culture researcher in Hue, was taken aback by the full-length details of King Thanh Thai’s rickshaw in a record kept by the French auction company.

According to the auctioning record, the king sold his rickshaw and bed – another royal treasure – to Prosper Jourdan, head of the king’s escort team, who took it to France in 1907.

The rickshaw has seen repairs to and restoration of some of its parts since, the record added.

Jourdan’s heirs later decided to put these two invaluable items up for auction and expressed their wish that after the auction, they will be displayed in Hue, which was Vietnam’s imperial capital during the Nguyen Dynasty. . . .


Stone-Faced Buddha ~ Longmen Grottoes


Longmen Grottoes

Took a little trip to the Luòyáng , China this past weekend as part of a culture trip hosted by the University! 

Pronounced something like “loi yahng,” this beautiful home to the National Peony Festival (I’ll add an update on the Peony Garden later) is one of the “cradles of Chinese Civiliazation” and one of the ancient capital cities of China (Henan has 2 of them! – Luoyang and Xinzheng).  The city itself is amazingly clean and open, the streets are unlittered and it’s pretty modern.  


The best part of my visit by far though was the Longmen Grottoes and the Peony Garden.  This week was part of the 2 week festival they have each year for the Peony festival, so people were everywhere despite the rain.  


The Longmen Grottoes themselves are absolutely mind-blowing ~ an amazing feat of human design and capability. To imagine that such intricate  design, specific carvings, and gentle touch art were feasible so many centuries ago is one of those things that always stops me in my tracks. I know a lot of people aren’t as interested as I in history and stone statues (several of the teachers I was with were fairly denigrating about spending so much time in a “Stone Garden). But to me, standing on the same ground, touching the rocks they touched, seeing the art they created, glimpsing pieces of hearts long past. It’s simply miraculous.


The Grottoes are home to thousands and thousands of carvings on the stone faces of the mountain cliffs. Most are of Buddha or his followers, some are pagodas, buildings, and other designs. The varying stone colors used to frame and decorate the statues, each one different from the rest.  Carved over a period of centuries (5th – 15th Century AD), each set was designed by a different artist, many from completely different times. You can trace the changes, both in religion and philosophy (skinny to fat Buddhas for example) and in art styles.


One of the other reasons the grottoes is so stunning is the River Yi (pron. ee) that runs alongside the valley in front of the rocks. The river is clean and beautiful, sweeping along a lovely walkway as antique-style dragon boats float up and down.  Stone bridges line the view, criss-crossing over to the other side that offers views of antique buildings lining the mountain paths.


 It’s just a beautiful way to spend a day


Exhibition honors Vietnamese female soldiers in Vietnam War

“Exhibition honors Vietnamese female soldiers in Vietnam War”

by Minh Hung via “Thanh Nien News”

The Southern Vietnam Women Museum has launched an exhibition of profiles and keepsakes of Vietnamese women who migrated from the north to the south in 1959 to fight for the liberation of southern Vietnam. Photos: Minh Hung
The exhibition, which opens until June 30 and for free at 202 Vo Thi Sau Street, District 3 has attracted foreign visitors on the first day (April 7). Another exhibition is being held at the same place to honor Vietnamese women’s contribution to the country’s workforce.
Water bottle and medical instrument kit that Labor Hero Do Kim Hong used when searching for the remains of her comrades who died in the Vietnam War.
A scarf that Hong used in her searches for the remains of her comrades. Besides the items, the museum also display hundreds of photos, keepsakes of Vietnamese female soldier who migrated from the north in 1959 to fight for the south’s liberation in a hope to find them or their relatives.
A foreign woman watching an item at the exhibition, placed near a statue of a mother armed with a gun while caring her two children and the slogan that reads: The enemies arriving at our home, even women will fight.
Mats displayed at the exhibition to honor Vietnamese women’s activeness at work.


Kenyans learn Chinese culture at festival in capital

“Kenyans learn Chinese culture at festival in capital”

via “Xinhua News Agency

Kenyans learn Chinese culture at festival in capital

NAIROBI, April 19 (Xinhua) — Many Kenyans thronged a Chinese stand at the Third Nairobi Cultural Festival to learn more about the Chinese culture during the international event held Sunday.

China was represented at the festival held at the National Museum of Kenya by the Confucius Institute at the University of Nairobi during the event that attracted 15 countries and two international organizations.

Guo Hong from the Confucius Institute led the staff in displaying Chinese traditional clothes, food, calligraphy, games, and masks among other exhibits.

“This is the first time China is taking part in the event, and we are in Kenya to teach people Chinese language and culture and let people know one another,” Guo told Xinhua.

Peter Kimura, a visitor at the festival, said he came to the stand to learn more about the Asian nation’s culture after reading in books about the diversity of Chinese culture. “As China and Kenya forge closer international relationship, it is important to learn some aspects of the Chinese culture,” Kimura said.

The festival, conceived in 2013 by the Liaison Manager of Research Institute of Swahili Studies of Eastern Africa at the National Museums of Kenya, Munira Mohammed, in a bid to promote the Swahili culture at first and finally becomes an annual event.

“In 2013, we attracted nine countries, whereas in the second year 12 countries participated and come next year we anticipate the figure to soar,” Mohammed told Xinhua.

Mohammed said the aim of this year’s event is to unite the world through heritage and diversity of cultures.

Other countries that participated at the event included the United States, Switzerland, Somalia, Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, Spain and Indonesia.

Kenyan Cabinet Secretary for Sports Culture and Arts, Hassan Wario, was welcomed at the Chinese stand by the choir from Confucius Institute that received him with a Chinese rendition of “Karibu Kenya” (Welcome to Kenya).

Wario emphasized the importance culture plays in life and promised to make the event a bigger carnival next year.

“Food and music are part of culture,” said Wario, adding one does not necessarily have to visit the respective countries to learn about other people’s culture. “You can even learn some aspects of customs from a forum like this.”


Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson to forfeit $425,000

“Treasure hunter Tommy Thompson to forfeit $425,000”

by Kathy Lynn Gray via “Columbus Dispatch

Ex-fugitive Tommy Thompson has agreed in a plea deal to turn over $425,380 seized in his case to U.S. District Court.

The agreement, obtained by The Dispatch yesterday, was filed on Thursday as part of a criminal contempt-of-court case against the former treasure hunter. The document says that Thompson will plead guilty to one count of criminal contempt.

It also says that he will help the parties to a 2006 federal lawsuit against his shipwreck-search companies to identify and recover assets and that he will answer questions under oath about those assets, including 500 commemorative gold coins.

The coins were minted from gold bars Thompson brought up from the SS Central America shipwreck and were valued in 2007 at $1 million to $2.5 million.

Thompson also agrees in the document to answer questions and provide information to investigators, including identifying anyone who helped him while he was a fugitive.

If he pleads guilty to the single contempt charge, the document says, the U.S. attorney will not charge him with other offenses arising from the case, “including federal criminal offenses related to fraud and unjust enrichment.”

It also says that Thompson “claims to suffer from a rare medical condition that requires specialized treatment” and that the government agrees that Thompson’s medical condition will be a focus of the presentence investigation.

Thompson and his girlfriend, Alison Antekeier, were ordered in 2012 to appear before Judge Edmund A. Sargus in Columbus as part of the federal lawsuit over the treasure brought up from the shipwreck off the East Coast in the late 1980s.

Instead, the pair fled, and contempt charges were filed against them. They were returned to Columbus after they were arrested by U.S. marshals in southern Florida in January. . . .