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Oct 11, 2023 / 07:37

Golden Seal "Emperor's Treasure" to return home soon

Legal procedures for the return of the Nguyen Dynasty golden seal in France are expected to be completed by the end of October 2023,

The legal process for repatriating the "Emperor's Treasure" golden seal will be completed by the end of October. This is an important basis for the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) treasure to return to Vietnam soon.

Director of the Department of Cultural Heritage Le Thi Thu Hien said at the regular press conference of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hanoi on October 9.

Hien went on to say that Vietnam's legal representative has just completed two important legal procedures: one allowing the export of antiquities from France and the other making taking antiquities out of Europe possible.

"So far, we have managed to handle the repatriation of the Gold Seal through cultural diplomacy, not through the auction process," Hien said.

The five-clawed dragon is a symbol of the king's power.

The Vietnamese side must pay the seal owner, according to the host country's laws. Once the payment is made, the owner will have a written waiver of all rights related to the artifact.

The director of the Department of Cultural Heritage said the Vietnamese representative is coordinating with French lawyers to finalize all legal documents by the end of October. Immediately after that, the Golden Seal will be returned to the country.

At the end of October 2022, ministry officials learned that the French auction house Millon would auction the seal on October 31, 2022. It is a golden seal of the Nguyen Dynasty, cast in 1823 during the reign of King Minh Mang (1820-1841). The square seal measures 13.8 cm x 13.7 cm, 10.4 cm high, and weighs 10.78 kg.

The hilt is molded in the shape of a coiled dragon with its head upright and its eyes looking forward in a firm stance. Words are engraved on the dragon's forehead, and the dorsal fin and tail are erect. The four cast legs of the dragon show the five claws that symbolize the king's power. The four words "The Emperor's Treasure" are engraved around the perimeter.

 Details of the golden seal dating from the Nguyen Dynasty.

A plan to repatriate the ancient seal through cultural diplomacy was devised by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and executed in conjunction with related ministries and agencies. The Vietnamese side explored all channels, including exchanging letters and official notes, requesting the French presidential advisor on foreign affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French Ministry of Culture, UNESCO and relevant specialized departments to stop the auction.

In the face of Vietnam's interest, Millon twice postponed the auction of the gold seal. After working with the Vietnamese interdisciplinary working group, Millon agreed to relinquish the artifact "in the spirit of consensus and understanding between the two parties and the friendly cooperative relationship between Vietnam and the French Republic".