Dragon is a legendary animal, ranked top of the four sacred spirits (dragon – unicorn – turtle – phoenix). In the East, dragon also is a symbol of the strong proliferation and the spring. During imperial time, dragon represented potent and auspicious powers, is closely associated with the emperors.
Close-up of dragon decorations on the throneQuang Binh Tourism Department
The shaping of dragon is the most successful expression of Nguyen Dynasty’s art. The artisans of that time created the image of the dragon not only to obey the artistic purpose, but also to comply with social institutions and then contemporary cultural institutions.
Dragon decoration on Thai Hoa Hall's roofQuang Binh Tourism Department
For those reasons, the dragon image under the Nguyen Dynasty is very diverse and abundant.
A bronze brass burners of Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) with dragons decoration by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department
Only in Hue, the largest center of culture, politics and art of the time, that richness was manifested in many ways: space, material, artistic expression and decoration.
Dragon on the Belvedere of the Five-Phoenixes' roofQuang Binh Tourism Department
In architecture, dragons were present on temples, palaces, fanes and pagodas in and outside the royal palace of Hue. Dragons appeared on the top of the roof, gables, gutters, screens, steps, rafters, door frames... of architectural works.
Dragon steps on Thai Hoa HallQuang Binh Tourism Department
Cloud-dragon decoration on pillars in the palace.
Red-lacquered and gilded ironwood columns in the palaceQuang Binh Tourism Department
Nine Dynastic Urns, throne, throne’s parasol, and the worship place of Nguyen kings were decorated with dragons.
Dragon head in the arm of the throneQuang Binh Tourism Department
Dragon on a side of the throne pedestalQuang Binh Tourism Department
Dragon-decorated urn's straps (1802/1945)Quang Binh Tourism Department
Also, the legendary animal were also used to decorate the knob of seals and king’s stationary...
Ivory dragon seal of emperor Tu DucQuang Binh Tourism Department
The deck of "xam huong" (red slabs) with dragon decorationQuang Binh Tourism Department
A mirror-painting picture of emperor Thieu TriQuang Binh Tourism Department
The dragon of the Nguyen Dynasty could be cast in bronze, carved from stone, sculpted from wood, bone, ivory and all kinds of precious stones. Dragon was embroidered on fabric, silk in costume, crown cap of the kings, mandarins and concubines.
Dragon pattern on the emperor's dragon robe by Tran Tuan VietQuang Binh Tourism Department
In general, the dragon of Nguyen art has inherited and developed from previous Vietnamese dragon generations. However, there are similarities with the Chinese dragon of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) because the Nguyen culture was influenced by Chinese culture. Dragon of the Nguyen Dynasty, through the hands of Vietnamese artisans, deserves to be an integral part of Vietnamese and Vietnamese art.
Dragon details on the nine dragons globeQuang Binh Tourism Department