Among the ten of genies bronzoe canons cast during the reign of Nguye Lords and Emperors, the nine canons manufactured in Gia Long’s time have biggest sizes with the most beautiful decorations.
After conquering the Tay Son dynasty and coming to the throne, Emperor Gia Long had all the bronze objects confiscated from the former dynasty to cast the nine big guns for “an eternal memory”.The national history book of the Nguyen dynasty showed that these conons were cast in Hue within 12 months, from February 1803 to January 1804. The working soldiers in the Administrative Minitry and soldiers in the Military Ministry were in charge of this task. Each canon was named before being cast. Four on one side represent the seasons in a year: spring, summer, autumn and winter; the other five represent the five basic elements in the universe: metal, water, wood, fre and earth. All these were carved at theend of the conons. In 1816, these 9 genies canons were honurly renamed by Gia Long’s court “Than Oai Vo Dich Thuong Tuong Cong Cuu Vi ” (the nine invicible genies high-rank mandarins). These seven words were also engraved on the conons.
All these canons are very big in size and heavy in weight. Each canon is 5.10m long, the barrel is 0105m thick and its diameter is 0,23m, the back circumference is 2,6m, the average weight is 11,000kg. Each canon is put on a woonden stand engraved meticulously. On both sides of each stand are four wheels meade of wood with iron binding for convenient transport. The canon bodies are decorated with carved words and flowers. Besides the canon names and the 3th Gia Long year (1804) on the body of each canon, its weight (in Vietnamese measurement) is also engraved. The heaviest one is 18,400kg, the lightest one is 17,200kg. Opposite to the place writing the weight on each gun is a short essay showing the reason to cast the canon and the way to produce gunpowder for it. Furthermore, there are also flower and leave decorative strips with two big handles engraved 12 unicorns meticulously and skilfully.
On the canons the names of the mandarins and heads who managed the casting implementation were also engraved: Nguyen Van Khiem, Hoang Van Can, Cai Van Hieu, and Phan Van Can.
During Gia Long reign, the nine genies canons were divided into two groups arranging on both sides tin the front of the main gate of the royal Enclosure (the Noo Gate); the four seasons group was put on the left, the “five elements” group on the right. All these were protected in shelters.
In 1896 the right group was moved to the same side with the left group (after Dai Nam Nhat Long Chi). In 1916 these nine genies canons were transferred to the current position, in the back of the two gates The Nhon (Cua Ngan) and Qoang Duc (Cua Sap) of Hue citadel.
The nine genies canons bear both historical signficance and high aesthetic value. They show that bronze casting techniques, decoative arts and engraving on the canons and the time stands are all professional and skilful. These are the biggest guns of the whole nation. These huge canons have not even once used. The Nguyen Emperors and mandarins used them to decorate the Imperial City (more strikingly) and as a “memory” as Gia Long once said.
Copyright by Phong Nha Pioneer TravelCategories: Blog