The Hanoi Museum is preserving an ancient seal with the registration number BTHN 10305 - the seal is made of bronze and is still relatively intact. The bronze seal, which measures 10 centimetres tall and weighs 0.7 kilograms, consists of the knob, base, and face. Each side of the face is 7.5 centimetres long. The seal is moulded by hand using a dark yellow antique bronze material and the traditional manual method. The square face of the seal is embossed with six ancient Chinese characters written in Thuong Phuong Dai Trien (Capital square seal script). The script is an old Chinese calligraphy style commonly used to inscribe seals throughout the feudal dynasties of Vietnam.



The characters engraved on the face of the seal are:

On the left: "Hong Duc thap bat nien":

This term refers to the reign of emperor Le Thanh Tong in 1479. 

("Hong Duc" refers to emperor Le Thanh Tong's reign, while "thap bat nien" refers to the 18th year).

On the right: "Thuong Bao Ty Tao": 

This term refers to the origin of the seal. It identifies the agency in charge of the office to assist the Emperor in storing the seal and copying the decree or the chapters in the book the Emperor has approved.

 ("Thuong Bao Ty" defines the origin of the seal).

Extra lines of text on the seal's right side refer to the Imperial ship's crew of the Emperor.

The capital of Thang Long was the most significant and busiest trading centre. Because of its advantageous location, it was highly convenient for traders who wanted to get to Thang Long by road or, more efficiently, by river.

The main traffic route in the country is the Nhi Ha River (Red River), the stretch running through the inner city is nearly 5 kilometres long. Many piers and wharves were adjacent to the streets on the right side of the Nhi Ha River, creating a primary trading circuit connecting Thang Long with other local markets. For many centuries, the Kim Nguu and To Lich River systems, connecting the Nhi Ha River and West Lake, operated as an efficient inner-city transportation system for internal trade. As a result, Emperor Le Thanh Tong established many fleets of boats that transported goods, one of which was the Ta So team.

Research shows that this is a rare and ancient artefact with crucial historical value in terms of archaeology, language, architecture, and fine arts, as shown by the old Chinese characters carved on the face of the seal. These precious materials contribute to understanding the Le Dynasty in the nation's history and should be preserved, studied, and protected.


Phạm Tân Tiến