Khiem Cung Ky is part of the Huế Imperial City complex, situated within Tomb of Tu Duc. The inscription is housed in a brick structure with a tiled roof supported by four large columns. Designed in the distinctive style of Nguyễn dynasty inscriptions, it rests on a tall stone pedestal measuring 100 cm in height, 309 cm in width, and 162.5 cm in thickness. The pedestal is crafted from a single piece of Thanh Hóa stone, skillfully carved with kneeling feet. The exterior of the pedestal features raised and intricate carvings of dragon-cloud motifs, lion-dog figures, and intertwined S-shaped motifs.
The estimated weight of the National Treasure Khiem Cung Ky is around 22 tons, with a height of 407 cm and a width of 259 cm. The inscription is carved on both sides. The front side features 2,319 characters arranged in a khải script style, while the back side features 2,537 characters arranged in a hành script style. Additionally, 4,854 characters are carved on the body of the inscription.
The stele area in the Tomb of King Tu Duc, where the Khiem Cung Ky stele is located - Vietnam's National Treasure
Different from the inscriptions of kings Gia Long, Minh Mạng, and Thiệu Trị, which usually praise the virtues and accomplishments of the kings themselves, Khiem Cung Ky was composed by King Tu Duc during his lifetime. The inscription is divided into five sections, touching upon the construction of his tomb, the description of the landscape within the tomb, the king's concern for the country, his private life, and his reflections on his actions and mistakes.
Visitors watiching Khiem Cung Ky stele when visiting the tomb of King Tu Duc (Photo: Huynh.chao.hung)