Preserving Vietnam's written heritage

A feature on a group of librarians at the Han-Nom Research Institute in Hanoi who oversee the storage and preservation of ancient written documents, dating from as early as the 7th century. To make copies of engraved tablets, they used a plaster made from dried banana!

Preserving the past, one banana at a time
Thanh Nien News, 31 October 2010

As the fanfare from Hanoi’s recent millennial anniversary winds down, a skeleton crew of skilled librarians continues to celebrate the town’s history in its own quiet way.

For the past forty years, the staff of the Han-Nom Research Institute in Hanoi has worked to preserve the country’s thousand-year-old culture by tending to a precious collection of ancient documents.

Thousands of books, engraved tablets, and handwritten copies sit in neat rows on the building’s shelves emitting a subtle musk that cannot be found in the sterile environs of a modern library.

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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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