The first Sac menh chi bao royal seal is said to be made in Tran dynasty in wooden material. This seal belonged to King Tran Thai Tong (1225 - 1258) and used for ordering or declaring royal ordinances in the early time of the resistance war against the first invasion of Chinese - Yuan dynasty to Dai Viet (1258).
The Sac menh chi bao royal seal, October, 8th year of Minh Menh reign, 1827
The stamp of the Sac menh chi bao
Since Le So dynasty, King Le Thai Tong reign, with the using purpose for national important businesses, the seal was firstly casted in silver and gold materials. This production was written in the historical document in the second year of Thieu Binh (1435). Then in Mac dynasty, Le Trung Hung dynasty and Tay Son dynasty (Quang Trung reign and Canh Thinh reign), "Sac menh chi bao" seals were stamped on the ordinances of conferment for mandarins or high ranking army officers, or on the proclamations to locals.
The royal ordinances issued in the year of Minh Duc (1527), throne of Mac Dang Dung, and throne of Mac Dang Doanh (1540) and the 9th year of Sung Khang (1547), throne of Mac Mau Hop can be found now at Quang Lang Temple, Thuy Hai commune, Kien Thuy, Thai Binh province.
Up to now, apart from the wooden Sac menh chi bao seal which has been recently discovered and now kept in Thang Long Royal Citadel, all seals of Le So dynasty to Tay Son dynasty are still missing.
Royal ordinance, reign of Canh Thinh (1793-1801)
Royal ordinance, reign of Thieu Tri (1841-1847)
The Nguyen dynasty (1802 – 1945), the final feudal dynasty of Vietnam had produced around 100 royal seals made of gold and jade.
Due to wars, some of them are still missing. The Vietnam National Museum of History is now housing a collection of the Nguyen family's seals, including the golden seal Sac menh chi bao casted in the 8th year of Minh Menh (1827) - recognized as a Vietnam's national treasure.
Some ordinances with stamp of the Sac menh chi bao:
Royal ordinance, reign of Tu Duc (1841-1847)
Royal ordinance, reign of Ham Nghi (1885)
Royal ordinance, reign of Thanh Thai (1889-1907)
Royal ordinance, reign of Duy Tan (1907-1916)
Royal ordinance, reign of Khai Dinh (1916-1925)
Royal ordinance, reign of Bao Dai(1926-1945)
The Sac menh chi bao golden royal seal (October, 8th year of Minh Menh reign, 1827) was transferred to the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 by the Nguyen dynasty and preserved in the Museum of Vietnamese History (now the Vietnam National Museum of History).
Museum code: LSb.34447.
Size: (H)11 cm x 14 x 14 cm
Weight (gr): 8.300.
The seal was casted in shape of a dragon, carving the words on its back meaning: 10 years old gold, casted on a good day, October, the 8th year of Minh Menh.
It was said that the seal had played a key role in the feudal monarchical institutions of the Nguyen dynasty. This seal, casted in gold material, high quality, sophisticated casting technique, is considered the best and unique object in a collection of 85 royal seals of the Nguyen's kings and queens preserved by the Vietnam National Museum of History. A symbol of power of the Nguyen dynasty, a national treasure of Vietnam, and an important historical resource representing for the Nguyen royal family in particular, and Vietnamese cultural history by the late 19th century and early 20th century.
Dinh Phuong Cham
EN: Tran Trang