Grande Tenue de la Cour d’Annam. Nam Giao Manuscript [UNIQUE] [INSCRIBED]. Hue, Vietnam: 1902. First edition. Oblong quarto. 54 bound pages laid-in original beige linen boards. Hand-written title-label pasted-down on inside of front board inscribed in French and dated december 1902. Stunningly illustrated with many images in original watercolors depicting courtiers and costumes of the Nam Giao festival, noting some personal names and titles in Chinese and French. Background on most pages in tan, with others in various colors and shades. Some age wear and staining on boards, rippling to inside of rear board. Manuscript block detached from boards. Captions in French and Chinese. Boards in overall fair to good, interior in very good condition. Unique manuscript with spectacular illustrations in vibrant colors.
The Nam Giao was the largest national festival of the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam’s last feudal regime ruling from 1802 to 1945. The festival was and still is held in honor of the earth and the sky with reenactments of a traditional royal ceremony by featuring royal rituals and court music often accompanied by royal dance performances. The celebration also serves as a grand platform to promote peace and to foster greater cultural unity. This particular manuscript most likely was designed as a gift to be presented at the 100-year celebration of the Nguyen dynasty.