Van Van Tomb (Tu Thong Mausoleum)
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Tomb of Van Van (Photo: Nguyen Tan Anh Phong)
More than 5km southeast of Hue Citadel, Tien Cung Mausoleum (僊宮陵) or Tu Thong Mausoleum (思聰陵), also known as Van Van Mausoleum. This is the tomb of Huu Thien Thuan Empress Duong Thi Thuc (1868 - 1944), wife of Dong Khanh king, and mother of Khai Dinh emperor, which is one of the largest queen tombs in Hue.
Tomb of Van Van (Photo: Nguyen Tan Anh Phong)
Address: 10 Tran Thanh Mai, An Dong ward, Hue city
Status: Recognized as National Architectural Art Monument in 2006

More than 5km southeast of Hue Citadel, Tien Cung Mausoleum (僊宮陵) or Tu Thong Mausoleum (思聰陵), also known as Van Van Mausoleum. This is the tomb of Huu Thien Thuan Empress Duong Thi Thuc (1868 - 1944), wife of Dong Khanh king, and mother of Khai Dinh emperor, which is one of the largest queen tombs in Hue. 

Van Van Mausoleum is located in the land of Cu Bac, An Cuu Tay village, An Cuu, Huong Thuy district, Thua Thien Ward; now it is at 10 Tran Thanh Mai Street, An Dong Ward, Hue City. The name of the Van Van Mausoleum comes from the concept at that time, that the land chosen to build the king's tomb must be the "Van Nien Cat Cuc" or "Van Nien Cat Dia", while the land chosen to build the tomb for the king's parents must be the "Van Nien Cat Cuc" or "Van Nien Cat Dia". Also from this mausoleum name, the neighborhood along the An Cuu River leading to this mausoleum is called Van Van Village.

On December 13, 2006, the Ministry of Culture and Information (now the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism) issued Decision No. 98/2006/QD-BVHTT on the Ranking of National Monuments for Architecture and Art of Van Van Mausoleum (Thuy An Commune, Hue City, Thua Thien Hue Province).


No written documents have been found that accurately indicate the time of construction of the Van Van mausoleum. But, according to a historical witness, Mr. Duong Quang Tung, this mausoleum was selected for location, planning and construction under Khai Dinh emperor (1916 - 1925). Mr. Duong Quang Tung (born in 1931, currently living in Hue) calls Ms. Duong Thi Thuc his aunt. He is the son of Mr. Duong Quang Luoc, the younger brother of Mrs. Tien Cung. Mr. Tung was allowed by Mrs. Tien Cung to stay with her at Truong Sanh Palace (in Hue Imperial Citadel) from the age of 2 until her death in 1944. He said that Mrs. Tien Cung died on August 2, the year Giap Than, lunar calendar (September 18, 1944). Her coffin was put in Truong Sanh palace for about a month, until the ninth lunar month of that year, the royal court conducted a funeral ceremony. Mr. Tung clearly remembers that when the court and the royal family brought the coffin to the Van Van mausoleum, the architectural works here were completed beforehand. The only thing they had left was to put the coffin under the stone in the mausoleum by the catacombs, and then bring down a large stone to block this tunnel.

Since then, the management and care of this tomb belong to the court. The court built an amnesty (soldier's house) with 3 areas by wood on the left side of the mausoleum so that some soldiers could stay and guard intuitively. But, since the Nguyen Dynasty ended in 1945 and Hue underwent historical upheavals, the house was abandoned, then dilapidated in the early 1950s.

In the period 1953 - 1955, the Nguyen Phuc Ethnic Committee (under the spiritual leadership of Mrs. Tu Cung) lobbied the government to appoint 4 museum staff to directly protect and care for Van Van tomb.

For 20 years from 1955 to 1975, the management of this mausoleum was almost left open. However, the land area within the scope of the Van Van mausoleum is still intact, no one has violated the providential land limited by a system of forbidden pillars since the construction of the mausoleum.

By the end of 2002, the Hue Monument Conservation Center began to sign a contract with Mr. Vo Van Cam (one of the four staff members who were in charge of Van Van tomb in 1953 - 1955) to perform the task: of care for and protecting this tomb.


The mausoleum of the king is usually located on the western hills of Hue. However, the mausoleum of Van Van is hidden in the middle of the plain of Hue. Going against the tradition, according to the ancient theory from the elders, the Nguyen family at that time gathered all the elements of the good sand according to the legend: "Cu Bac is the most beautiful land of the grave - mandarins to wait endlessly". These two verses mean: Cu Bac is a good land, choosing to be grave, the descendants of the next generation are glorious and successful, and the mandarins do not need to worry.

Compared to the mausoleum of the empresses of the Nguyen Dynasty, including the Tu Minh Mausoleum of Mrs. Thanh Cung in the Tu Mausoleum Complex of Dong Khanh Emperor, Tu Thong Mausoleum (Van Van Mausoleum) of Mrs. Tien Cung is much larger in scale. The area of providential land for Van Van Mausoleum is approximately 6 hectares. The mausoleum was built during the reign of the Khai Dinh emperor, so it is one of the typical relics of Vietnamese art history in general and the Nguyen Dynasty in particular at that time when there began to be a combination of new construction materials, reinforced cement with traditional construction materials. The mausoleum is elaborately decorated, sophisticated, and rich in density, carving and embellishing vivid images such as the sun, clouds, lotus flowers, phoenixes, peaches, and familiar decorations such as apricots, willow trees, green pineapples, peonies...


Van Van Mausoleum runs along the Northwest - Southeast axis, located completely in a strip of land between An Dong Ward, Hue City today. The mausoleum is based on the feng shui position "Located in the mountain, the direction of water" and "Ta Thanh Long, Huu Bach Ho, Tien Chu Tuoc, Hau Huyen Vu". 

Specifically, the Van Van Mausoleum leaned back against Ngu Binh mountain in the distance behind, in front of which there was a flow of water. This water is the "Tien Chu Tuoc", which the An Cuu people call the bald, starting from the sub-mountain area flowing through Cong Bac and reaching the An Cuu River.

In front of the mausoleum, there is a large screen of a mountain keeper. On either side are two large, superficial chart pillars. The two sides of the front yard have a system of Penjing with symbols for Ta Thanh Long, and Huu Bach Ho.

The design principle of the Van Van mausoleum is not strictly beyond the ancient feng shui system. Although located on plain land, the mausoleum is also built on a mound about 4m above the ground, called Huyen Cung. Surrounded by Buu Thanh, Huyen Cung is located in the center of the mausoleum, which is also the secret location of the mausoleum. Huyen Cung has an area of about 400m2, surrounded by two solid citadels. The outer citadel is 4,5m high, 0,76m thick. The inner citadel is 3m high, 0,6m thick. The two citadels are built of bricks and cement.

The entrance to the Huyen Cung has only one door at the front, called Buu Thanh Mon. Arched door, above is the two fake roofs. 

Stepping through Buu Thanh is a screw-shaped ornament screen. The screw-shaped ornament is richly decorated with motifs such as Bat Buu (Eight precious objects), Tu Thoi (Four seasons),... but the focus is still on the stylized Van Tho letter. On the back is a picture of phoenixes hidden in clouds. Following the screen is the entrance to the Huyen Cung campus with a relatively narrow entrance of about 2m. 

In the middle of the Huyen Cung is a stone tomb designed like a small house built on the steps. The four corners have a parapet with a lotus-shaped pillar and 8 pairs of fruits: peach, custard, mango, and pomegranate. 8 pairs of fruits or 8 pillars dotted with lucky symbols are all meant to protect the mother of the world and have a good sleep. Not only that, but such a sacred gathering point of feng shui will also deliver posterity to descendants.

At the end of Huyen Cung's yard, there is also a screw-shaped ornament screen. The front is decorated with a stylized Van Tho letter in the middle and 4 bats in 4 corners. This way of decoration is “Ngu Phuc” which means blessings.

Artistic Value:

If the architectural works under Khai Dinh emperor with a new series of building materials are reinforced cement and with an elaborate, sophisticated, and rich decorative form, it has left a different mark in the history of Vietnamese art in general and the Nguyen Dynasty in particular, the Van Van mausoleum is also one of the typical and specific relics of this historical period.

With the selection of locations and the application of feng shui principles to the construction of the mausoleum, and with the values of architectural art as well as decorative art, the Mausoleum of Van Van fully demonstrates the traditional piety of a Nguyen emperor to the mother who gave birth to him.

Route Guide:

From Hue Citadel, it only takes more than 10 minutes to get to Van Van Mausoleum by motorbike/ car with a distance of more than 5km. From Le Duan Street, go over Phu Xuan Bridge, to Hanoi Street, go straight to the 6 intersections of Vincom Hue buildings; continue to follow Hung Vuong main road towards An Cuu Bridge and then continue to An Duong Vuong Street. From here, go about 400m more, then turn left into Alley 93 An Duong Vuong, along this road to reach Tran Thanh Mai Street. Van Van Mausoleum is located at 10 Tran Thanh Mai, An Dong Ward, Hue City.