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Solutions proposed for demolished tomb of king’s wife

THỪA THIÊN – HUẾ — The Culture and Sports Department of Thừa Thiên Huế Province has proposed two possible solutions to deal with the tomb of one of the wives of King Tự Đức (1847-1883) which was intentionally bulldozed by a construction company clearing the site to build a parking lot.

A temporary tomb was built at the origninal location of the bulldozed mausoleum of a wife of King Tự Đức. — Photo

The chairman of the province’s People’s Committee ordered concerned agencies to find a feasible solution to the situation, according to Phan Thanh Hải, director of the department.

The first proposal would keep the tomb at its original location.

Hải said the authorities would adjust the plan for the parking lot to exclude the tomb’s site.  

The second solution would involve moving the tomb near the resting place of Học Phi, another wife of the king. The Nguyễn Family Committee would have to accept the plan.

In both solutions, the tomb will be placed under the Committee’s care.

Hải said the first solution would be more suitable because Chuỗi Giá Trị Ltd Company, which is building the parking area for tourists visiting the mausoleums of King Tự Đức and King Đồng Khánh in Huế’s Thủy Xuân Ward, had also proposed cutting out 200sq.m of land for the tomb site in its original place.

On June 27, Thừa Thiên-Huế People’s Committee asked agencies to propose solutions for the tomb more than two years after it was intentionally bulldozed by the contractor building the parking lot.

The mausoleum, as described by local residents, had an arched gate, fairly high walls and a blue stone stele.

The Nguyễn Family Committee searched the construction area and found the stele with carved words with meaning “Tomb of royal concubine Lê Thị Thục Thuận”. The Committee also found the remnants of a buried hole and layers of bricks from the Nguyễn Dynasty. 

Researcher Đỗ Bang, vice chairman of the Historical Science Association, said a gold gilded tablet worshipped inside King Tự Đức’s mausoleum has the same name. He said the stone stele belonged to the bulldozed tomb of the king’s wife.

The Committee asked for permission from local authorities to construct a temporary tomb with the stele surrounded by a fence and covered with a metal roof. Since the temporary structure was built, the project has been on hold,

King Tự Đức was born in 1829 as Nguyễn Phúc Hồng Nhậm, and changed his name to Nguyễn Phúc Thì when crowned. He was the fourth king of the Nguyễn Dynasty and had the longest reign (1847-1883). He had 103 wives but there were no sufficient reports on his wives. Though noone was crowned Queen, the holder of the highest title was Hoàng Quý Phi.

During his reign, in 1858, the French-Spanish force attacked Đà Nẵng in the neighbourhood. The royal court could not resist the French and hoped to negotiate by giving them land.

In 1883, the king passed away. Then the French attacked the imperial citadel to force the Nguyễn court to admit the “protection” of the French in Đại Nam (then the name for Việt Nam) territory.

After Tự Đức’s reign, the Nguyễn Dynasty was just a name without any power because the country was controlled by the French. — VNS

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