THE JOURNEY OF ANCHORS TO HANOI MUSEUM
Currently, the Hanoi Museum is home to 2 anchors donated by Mr. Quach Van Dich in 2017. The anchors are made of wood, large in size and dating from the 16th to 17th century.
The first anchor, made from ironwood and shaped like a giant arrow, is a two-pronged type, consisting of the main body with the barbs on both sides. The anchor head is fixed with iron braces and tied with ropes. The prongs on either side of the anchor body with the head covered in metal, are concave in the middle like a crescent moon. The tail of the anchor is chiseled to create a ledge and engraved in the style of a fishtail. The lower part of the barbs near the top of the anchor and the part near the tail have a round hole, 10cm in diameter. According to experts, this round hole can be used to thread a long wooden stick so that when the anchor falls, it will not lie down, and will not move easily when pulled.
The second anchor is made of locust wood and is a single pronged type. One side of the body has a prong, with the head fixed by metal and tied with rope made of coconut fibre. The barbed head is covered with metal, concave in the middle like a crescent moon. The tail of the anchor is chiseled to create a ledge and engraved in a fishtail style. Near the tail is a round hole, 13cm in diameter.
One autumn morning in 2022 we met Mr. Quach Van Dich, to hear more stories about the anchors and about the process of him collecting and then donating to the Hanoi Museum. As a son born in Hanoi, he has the desire to give this "gift" to the people of Hanoi. Mr. Quach Van Dich is a native of Hang Bac old town. After his family moved to Dinh Cong Village, his father worked as a gold and silver carver. Later his family moved to 941 Hong Ha Street, where he lived and bought these anchors.
In 1999, he paid 8 tael of gold for the 2-pronged anchor. This anchor was found by Mr. Muoi about 20km from Chuong Duong bridge over the Red River at a depth of 7m. He bought the 1-pronged second anchor three months after the first one for 3 tael of gold.
In 2000 he opened a restaurant in which he also displayed the 2 anchors. A group of Chinese experts saw the anchors and offered a very high price to buy the 2-pronged one but he did not wish to sell.
Later he met scientists, viz Mr. Pham Quoc Can, Mr. Duong Trung and Mr. Vu The Long who assisted him in connecting with a team of experts from Australia and the US to date the 2 anchors. The team included Japanese students doing doctoral thesis research on anchor types. The results are as aforementioned ie the 2-pronged anchor is made from ironwood, the 1-pronged from locust wood and the rope is made from coconut fiber.
After failed negotiations to sell the anchors he met with Mr. Nguyen Tien Da, Director of the Hanoi Museum, who was naturally very enthusiastic about the history and heritage of Hanoi. He finally decided to donate the anchors to the Hanoi Museum.
The anchors have great economic value, but he decided to gift them to the people of Hanoi, allowing future generations to study the history of our ancestors on the Red River and encourage further underwater archaeological excavation. He thinks these artifacts best belong in the Hanoi Museum because they were discovered in Hanoi, and are now where they rightfully belong.
The 2 anchors discovered in the Red River, Hanoi likely originate from boats that have docked at Thang Long. It attests to an historical period where there were many large ships and trading was busy. This also opens up many new research directions on the history of our people on the Red River. Maybe there was naval warfare or maybe these anchors were simply ‘lost’ and unable to be recovered from military or commercial boats. There are many theories but further in-depth and interdisciplinary research is needed to be able to decipher the questions of history.
Putting the anchor in the permanent display of the Hanoi Museum creates an important highlight in the history of Thang Long on the Red River.
Mr. Quach Van Dich who donated two anchors
Researchers at home and abroad came to study the 2 anchors