The National Archives Centre in Da Lat City has discovered among its holdings a woodblock text of King Ly Thai To’s “Chieu Doi Do” (Royal Edict for Moving the Capital).
The woodblock text of King Ly Thai To’s “Chieu Doi Do”
The proclamation is believed to have been written by Ly Thai To himself. It was issued in the spring of the year 1010 to set in motion the transfer of the capital of Dai Co Viet [ancient Vietnam] from Hoa Lu (Ninh Binh today) to Dai La (Hanoi today).
Before finding this woodblock, historians only knew the text of the Chieu Doi Do from historical documents. Centre director Phan Thi Hue said that the rare woodblock was found among woodblocks of the 19th century Nguyen Dynasty.
The woodblock is written in Chinese ideographs, 20 x 29.5cm, with 214 characters. Researchers said that this woodblock was likely created in the Later Le Dynasty (17th century) or the Nguyen Dynasty (19th century).
The Edict on the Transfer of the Capital is of great meaning in many respects. The work has been researched for insights into history, politics, literature, geography and philosophy.
The print version
Here is the translation of the edict:
“In the old times [in China – VNNB], under Pan Geng of the Shang dynasty, the capital was moved five times; under King Cheng of Zhou, the capital was transferred for three times. It was not for personal benefit that the kings moved the capital. They did so to pursue great causes, choosing a central place, making it favourable for future generations to thrive, a place that respected the heavenly mandate and accorded with the commons, thus ensuring the eternal existence of the nation and the richness of our customs. But now the Le and the Dinh [the Vietnamese dynasties immediately preceding the Ly – VNNB] disregarded the heavenly mandate and did not follow the examples of the Shang and Zhou, but just fixed the capital here, causing which causes the brevity of the nation, the people’s depletion and the discord of the universe. This saddens me, and causes me to now think of transferring the capital.
“The Dai La citadel, the former capital of Gao Wang, is in the very heart of the universe. The position evokes that of soaring dragon and stalking tiger, in the centre of the four directions, and thus is convenient for the development of the nation. This area is large and flat, high and bright, its inhabitants do not suffer from floods and darkness, everything is in full prosperity. After investigating all lands of Vietnam, this place is actually the gathering point of people from across the nation, the most appropriate place for the eternal site of the capital.
“I want to take the most advantage from placing the capital here, what do you think, O court mandarins?”
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