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Nov 22, 2023 / 22:59

Giang Vo military school weapons on display for first time

Artifacts and documents from the Giang Vo Military School, the first national military training institution in Thang Long (now Hanoi), are on display at the Hanoi Museum.

The Giang Vo Military School and Le Dynasty Weapons Collection exhibition opened at the Hanoi Museum on November 21 to mark the 18th anniversary of Vietnam's Cultural Heritage Day (June 23).

The exhibition is among activities to make the capital worthy of being a member of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network.

The exhibition showcased more than 200 documents and artifacts, the highlight of which is the Ngoc Khanh Weapons Collection, which consists of 111 pieces and was recognized as a national treasure by the Prime Minister on January 30, 2023. This is a complete collection of all kinds of cold and hot weapons from the 15th to 18th centuries, currently kept in the Hanoi Museum.

A visitor learns about the history of the first military school in the capital, Thang Long-Hanoi. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

The exhibition is expected to educate the young generation about history, patriotism, and national pride.

Nguyen Tien Da, Director of the Hanoi Museum, said: "During thousand years of history of building and defending the country, our ancestors heroically fought against many invaders to protect the independence of the fatherland. In the war, people are the decisive factor, but weapons also play an important role. Weapons research aims to contribute to understanding the reasons for the victory of our past generations in defending the country".

According to Da, records of military training in ancient Vietnam are scarce and provide very little evidence in many respects. Military training relics in Hanoi, such as the Giang Vo Military School, have been recorded since the Le Dynasty, but there are few documents on them. Therefore, scholars must continue researching the weapons and military practices of a historical period and the collection of weapons unearthed in today's Giang Vo Ward of Hanoi.

 Part of the exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

"The relics of Giang Vo Military School will partly contribute to valuable sources of national history," Da said.

Giang Vo Truong (Giang Vo Military School) is the first national military training school in Thang Long, the ancient capital of Vietnam, now called Hanoi. This area was used to practice martial arts, teach military tactics and strategies, and conduct military exercises during the feudal dynasties.

In 1481, King Le Thanh Tong built the Giang Vo Hall on this site. In October, the winter of the same year, he dug the Hai Tri Lake, which measured nearly 100 Vietnamese miles (about 4.5 km) in diameter.

 Inside the exhibition. Photo: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times

In the middle of the lake is Thuy Ngoc Palace, and on the shore of the lake is Giang Vo Hall, where military drills and parades were held. The archaeological site of Giang Vo Hall, its Giang Vo courtyard, martial arts arenas, and shooting ranges are all located within the compound of the Giang Vo Military School.
Through the discovery of ceramic and wooden architectural relics, it is confirmed that this was a large-scale structure, evidence of the Le Dynasty's National Military School, which existed for more than three centuries (from the 15th to the 18th century).

Since the 1960s, the study of the Giang Vo Military School has drawn the attention of many historical and archaeological researchers. Sporadic discoveries of weapon artifacts at the Cau Giay Intermediate School of Transport (now the University of Transport) and archaeological findings at Ngoc Khanh Lake (Ba Dinh District, Ha Noi) in 1983, together with the richest collection of metal weapons of the Middle Ages, allow this area to be identified as the Giang Vo Military School of the Le Dynasty.

Below are some photos of the exhibition:

 The exhibition presented more than 200 documents and artifacts, the highlight of which is the Ngoc Khanh weapons collection. Photos: Ngo Minh/The Hanoi Times
 An Dong entry card is made of ironwood with a string to hold it. Only those who wore it were allowed to enter the Giang Vo Military School. 
 The collection of hook spears. 
The hot weapons of the Ngoc Khanh Weapons Collection.