The gate of Tuy Ly Vuong Residence
In the Nguyen era, in Hue there were many residences for princes and princesses. Phu were for princes and De were for married princesses. Those residences were located mainly in Kim Long, Vy Da, or along Ben Ngu River.
However few people now know residences such as Tuy Ly Vuong’s and Tung Thien Vuong’s though the image of Hue in its golden time can be found there.
I dropped by Tuy Ly Vuong Residence on one sunny afternoon after a hurricane. The Residence is located at 140 Nguyen Sinh Cung St., Hue City. It used to be home and is now the worship place for prince Nguyen Phuc Mien Trinh, born in 1821, the 11th son of Emperor Minh Mang.
The Tuy Lý Vương Temple is called by the populace by a simple name: Three-Entrance Residence because of its triple gate.
Garden houses in Hue often look solemn and a bit melancholy. Those old houses are painted yellow with tiled roofs, and very well protected. It is as if we do not keep them, we would lose them for good.
Princes' and princesses’ residences differ from other garden houses in that they look more solemn and are carved more elaborately. Embossed ornamental details on gates and screens (binh phong) prove the talent of artisans in the past.
Vinh Phu, the 4th generation of Tuy Ly Vuong Mien Trinh, is in charge of worshipping his ancestry
The residence is about 2,000m2 and divided into two areas. The front part is to worship his mother, Le Thi Ai. The three-compartment-and-two-wing house at the rear is to worship His Highness Tuy Ly. Besides his picture, there are objects that he used, even his cushions.
Tuy Ly Vuong was a versatile poet, known as the “prince of poetry.” He started to compose poetry at the age of 13. He was famous for his poetry collections such as Vi Da Tho Tap, Nu Pham Dien Nghia Tu, Hoa Lac Ca. He was praised by Emperor Tu Duc:
“Van nhu Sieu Quat vo tien Han
Thi dao Tung Tuy that thinh Duong,”
meaning no poets of the Han dynasty can compare with Quat (Cao Ba Quat) and Sieu (Nguyen Van Sieu,) and no poets of the Tang dynasty can compare with Tung (Tung Thien Vuong) and Tuy (Tuy Ly Vuong.)
Tuy Ly Vuong was well known not only as a poet, but also as a physician. He used to be invited to the imperial city to treat emperor Tu Duc.
Time keeps passing and never returns. People of the past stayed with past. But the imperial city and Phu De are still here as historical witnesses for the younger generation to protect and conserve.
I returned to the triple gate, looking up at the residence roof elaborately and lively decorated with dragons and phoenixes in the late sun. I felt proud that Hue is still as it was with time. It is as if its golden time in the history survived intact in front of my eyes.
If you come to Hue, trying visiting some garden Phu De to look back at the past with princes and princesses, and to see the city of Hue which is both solemn and peaceful. You can also have a chance to see poetry woodblocks by the “prince of poetry” and immerse yourself in the quietness of Hue gardens.