King of Vietnam’s 11kg gold seal to go under hammer in France

The Imperial Seal of Emperor Minh Mang (1791-1841) will be auctioned with 329 artifacts in a sale on October 31 (Paris time).

According to the French auction house, the square-based seal is 10.4 centimeters high and weighs 10.78 kilograms.

The handle is shaped like a coiled dragon with five claws and the head is raised and the character “Vuong”, meaning king, is incised on its forehead.

Each of the dragon’s four legs has five claws. Its scaly body is adorned with a domed dorsal crest, and the head is covered with deer horns, exposing the lion’s snout and teeth.

The Imperial Seal of King Minh Mang. Photo courtesy of Millon

The phrase “Hoang De Chi Bao” (Emperor’s Treasure) appears on the imperial seal.

The auction house claims that this seal was used exclusively for important documents during the reign of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Over a hundred seals have been created over the 143 years of the Dynasty. The models were made in gold, jade, ivory, silver and bronze and used by the various members of the royal family according to their rank, as well as by officials. Fifteen jade and gold seals were created during the reign of King Minh Mang.

The country’s authorities and specialists are demanding that the artifacts be returned to Vietnam.

A spokesman for the Department of Cultural Heritage said that on hearing the news he recommended that a number of details about the item be checked quickly, including previous owner, legality, sale price planned and the possibility of negotiating a direct purchase without an auction. .

After verification, the Vietnamese delegation will recommend an action plan to safely return the item to Vietnam.

The ministry’s cultural heritage department said if the seal was the real “emperor’s treasure”, then it had been used for public and political activities throughout a historical period and had significant cultural value.

Nguyen Phuong Hoa, director of the Ministry of Culture’s Department of International Cooperation, said the agency is currently verifying whether the artifact is real or not.

“Relying solely on the information from the auction house would be a mistake. We need help from the Vietnamese Embassy in France before we can go any further,” she said.

According to antiquities expert Tran Duc Anh Son, he heard about the seal auction through a friend. Through research and comparison with historical documents, he was able to verify the authenticity of the artifact depicted in Millon’s description and said he firmly believed it was the true seal.

Later, he told Nguyen Van Doan, director of the National Museum of Vietnam History, to find a method to bring the artifact home. Museum officials have since met with officials from the federal agency responsible for cultural preservation to discuss the matter.

“The Nguyen dynasty valued the seal highly, so its return to Vietnam would be greatly appreciated,” he said.

A golden bowl of King Khai Dinh of the Nguyen Dynasty.  Photo courtesy of Millon

A golden bowl of King Khai Dinh of the Nguyen Dynasty. Photo courtesy of Millon

Millon also offers for sale a gold bowl, which has an image of a dragon, from the time of King Khai Dinh of the Nguyen Dynasty (reigned 1916-1925). The bowl is estimated between 20,000 and 25,000 euros.

There has been an increase in the popularity and presence of Vietnamese antiques in international auctions.

In June, a jade bowl belonging to Tu Duc, the fourth king of Vietnam’s last royal dynasty, fetched 845,000 euros at an auction in Paris.

Last October, a Vietnamese mandarin cap from the Nguyen dynasty sold for 600,000 euros in Spain.

Founded in 1928, the Paris-based Millon Auction House also has offices in Nice (France), Brussels and many other European cities.