Thua Thien Hue has been so much famous for the Hue Imperial City where many dynasties of Vietnamese kings had been spent. Therefore, it would not be surprising that this land is home to numerous tombs especially of Nguyen Dynasty’s Kings which are recognized as world heritages by UNESCO. Contributing to the common art treasure of humanity is the system of tombs and mausoleums with abundant styles expressing Emperors’ characteristics. Being the last great tomb from the Nguyen dynasty, Emperor Khai Dinh’s mausoleum shines with a mix of Asian and European style that tourists could hardly ignore when visiting Hue.
Currently, compared to other mysterious tombs in Vietnam, Tomb of Khai Dinh, also known as Ung Lang, has been relatively intact and owned a unique architecture. Emperor Khai Dinh decided to locate his tomb imperial at the foot of the mountain Chau Chu, 9 kilometers south of Hue city. In comparison with the rest of imperial tombs, this imperial tomb is small in extent, little more than 5600 square meters; however, its construction, decoration and details are very elaborate. In populations of tombs, Tomb of Khai Dinh was built with cement and steel, meanwhile the others were implemented with mortar and masonry. There were two houses for civil and military mandarins; yet, the king had died when the building was on the way to be finished. The tomb was completed by Emperor Bao Dai, Khai Dinh’s successor in 1931. This was the oldest lasting building and also the last royal tomb constructed in Nguyen Dynasty.
At first, the main building brings about a strong Western feel, however, the landscape was arranged to reflect traditional perceptions: a balanced combination between wood, land, water and plants. Overall, it’s an emerging rectangular structure with 127 steps, leaning against the mountain. The side walls are formed by the biggest sculptures of dragons in all over Vietnam. After climbing upstairs, tourists can first see the house of epitaph. The statues of mandarins court (including mandarins, horses, soldiers…) are placed at the courtyard. The last room is the tomb itself, containing a statue of Emperor Khải Định that was cast in Marseilles, an altar in the tradition of ancestor worship and a temple with the grave. The statue depicting the Emperor on his throne was sculpted in 1920 by Ducuing and Barbedienne in Paris. However, the body of the Emperor is not resting in this tomb. A desecration of the dead body would bring great shame upon the country, so the Emperor is actually buried at a secret place, while the tomb and temple is a dwelling for the spirit.
The system of Khai Dinh Tomb completed 83 years ago, so far it has been still relatively intact. The most artistic values and excellent features of the tomb are Thien Dinh Palace, the burial place of King Khai Dinh’s corpse. The primary responsibility to create the perfect work of art in the Thien Dinh Palace was Pham Van Tanh artist, author of 3 murals “9 dragons hidden in cloud), the biggest murals in Vietnam. It was decorated the ceiling of three halls in Thien Dinh Palace.
Tracing back to the constructing time, in order to complete the tomb, the rulers had to raise national tax to 30%. By then Vietnam sovereignty was lost to French invaders and Western culture was prevailing all over the country. Consequently, Khai Dinh tomb is the result of the intermingling of Oriental and Occidental, Roman and Gothic style, Hindu and Buddhist style, as well as ancient and modern features, which makes this place outstanding and amazing than other places. Tourists can book a trip to Khai Dinh Tomb and explore its ancient beauty together with the hilly landscape of the nature. Having to say, Khai Dinh Tomb is the pinnacle of visual art on porcelain and glass and it is actually a valuable work of art and architecture. Tourists once participating in Hue tourism in general and Khai Dinh tomb in particular will actually get unforgettable memories.