Royal treasures are currently on display at the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi .
Among the 140 items from the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) on show are gemstone-encrusted seals and a gold-inlaid sword that was donated to the nation in 1945.
The exhibition also includes a collection of gemstone artworks of famous landmarks and legendary characters. The artworks differ from those made in China and bear the distinctive hallmarks of Nguyen Dynasty artisans.
There are also eight figurines of Tao fairies made from white and grey gemstones that originated in China . They differ from Buddhist figurines, which are typically composed of green, red and brown gemstones. The Buddhist figurines also feature the typical high bun hairstyles and oval faces.
The exhibition also includes statuettes of the twelve animals of the zodiac dating from the 19th century. They are all depicted in a seated position holding a sacred object.
According to the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, the bed is likely to have been built when King Thanh Thai was a crown prince. The king continued to use it during his reign.
Meanwhile, the rickshaw, made from “trac” wood encrusted with conch, was custom-made as a gift from the king to his mother.
The elaborately carved artifacts are highly cherished for their technical, aesthetic, cultural and historical value.
Phan Thanh Hai, director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Center, said that local experts’ estimates showed that the items could fetch roughly US$50,000.
In very few cases, the provincial People’s Committee gave a nod to the spending of $50,000 on cultural and historical treasures.
The Vietnam Embassy in France raised some €10,000 and had two Vietnamese French persons join the auction, which was held in Tours, France on June 13.
Experts confirmed that the two treasures have legal origins.
After being dethroned in 1907, King Thanh Thai sold the two items to Prosper Jourdan, leader of the king’s escorts.
Jourdan’s heirs later decided to put the treasures on auction and expressed their wish that after the auction, they will be displayed in Hue.
At the auction, the bed’s price soared from €1,000 to €100,000 only after five minutes.
The two Vietnamese French persons, assigned by the Vietnam Embassy in France, failed to buy the item, which fetched a total of €124,000, including the organization fee.
The bed auction winner was one of King Thanh Thai’s distant relatives. The item is on its way back to Vietnam.
Nguyen Van Cuong, the museum’s director, said the current exhibition would be followed by others displaying more national treasures, memorabilia and artefacts.
The Ancient Vietnamese Gems exhibition, which will run for several months, is the first of its kind to be held at the museum.