Notice on Historic Tombs in the Province of Gia-Dinh, 1924

Around Saigon – the Tomb of a Mandarin

A translation of the Report of 21 June 1924 to the Administrator of Gia-Dinh regarding the ancient tombs in the province, found in the National Archives.

I. The Tomb of Le-Van-Duyet

“Tombeau du maréchal Lê-Van-Duyêt, vice-roi de la Basse-Cochinchine, premier mandarin de l’Empire (1763-1832)” 1921-1935

Le-Van-Duyet, better known to Europeans by the name “Great Eunuch,” was appointed by Minh-Mang in 1822 as Viceroy in charge of Cochinchina. The high position he occupied, and the great prestige which surrounded him, were due as much to memory of the glorious services he had rendered to Gia-Long during the wars against the Tay-Son, as to his deep sense of justice.

Duyet died in 1832, and today his tomb is located right opposite the Inspection of Gia-Dinh, on the land where he had his country house. His memory is greatly venerated; he was classed among the most powerful minds in the indigenous theogony. A pagoda was established next to his tomb, one of the largest ever to have been built, to which devotees come every day to offer sacrifices. It is also here that, in the assembled presence of village notables, and following fixed rites, the most solemn judicial oaths are taken.

This tomb is carefully maintained in its pristine state. The pagoda is currently being restored. This work is being directed with undisputed competence by Mr Diep-Van-Cuong, whose skills will save this monument of pure Annamite style from undergoing a shocking modern restoration.

II. The Tomb of Le-Van-Phong

A Tomb of an Annamite Mandarin

Le-Van-Phong was the brother of Le-Van-Duyet. His tomb is located in the village of Tan-Son-Nhat (canton of Duong-Hoa-Thuong), close to that of the Bishop of Adran.

This tomb is located on the rubber plantation of Mr Cravette. That colon offers free access to the tomb to local people, who are very grateful to him that they are able to celebrate the cult to the memory of the deceased. There is indeed an indigenous association for that purpose.

III. The Tomb of Vo-Thanh

Cochinchina – A Mandarin’s Tomb

Vo-Thanh, valiant Marshal of Gia-Long, has his tomb in the village of Phu-Nhuan (canton of Duong-Hoa-Thuong).

This imposing tomb is surrounded by several pine trees which were planted, it is said, on the orders of Gia-Long. An indigenous association has also been constituted here to observe the cult of his memory.

IV. The Tomb of Vo-Di-Nguy

Saigon – Tomb of a Mandarin

Vo-Di-Nguy was also a companion at arms of Gia-Long. His tomb, like that of Vo-Thanh, is located in the village of Phu-Nhuan (canton of Duong-Hoa-Thuong). It is situated behind a house belonging to Miss Therèse Vidal, and on her property.

Despite the merits of Vo-Di-Nguy, no indigenous group currently exists to honour his memory. The tomb is currently looked after by a few local people from the neighbourhood.

V. The Tomb of Nguyen-Van-Hoc

Souvenir of Cochinchina – Tomb of a Mandarin

Finally, one should note another tomb, located on the grounds of Captain Pham, near the Treasury of Gia-Dinh. Judging by its architecture, its imposing dimensions and its decorative motifs, the tomb must be that of a great dignitary.

After investigations and research by Doc-Phu [Governor] Phat, it seems that the tomb is that of Nguyen-Van-Hoc (?), Marshal of the Vanguard of Gia-Long and novice ordained by the Bishop of Adran.

See also Forgotten Nguyen Dynasty Tombs of Phu Nhuan.

Tim Doling is the author of the walking tour guidebook Exploring Hồ Chí Minh City (Nhà Xuất Bản Thế Giới, Hà Nội, 2014) and also conducts Saigon and Chợ Lớn Heritage Tours.

A full index of all Tim’s blog articles since November 2013 is now available here.

Join the Facebook group pages Saigon-Chợ Lớn Then & Now to see historic photographs juxtaposed with new ones taken in the same locations, and Đài Quan sát Di sản Sài Gòn – Saigon Heritage Observatory for up-to-date information on conservation issues in Saigon and Chợ Lớn.

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