Trinh Quang Dung – enthusiast of culture and science
By My Tran in HCMC
In two decades working as a researcher on Vietnamese culture and history and focusing on the Vietnamese tea drinking culture in particular, Trinh Quang Dung now owns over 200 old tea sets.
|Trinh Quang Dung, a researcher on Vietnamese history and culture, poses for a photo next to his collection of rare teapots|
Dung is proud of his nation’s tea-drinking culture and has uncovered old tea sets wherever he has traveled.
“I don’t collect just stuff, I choose tea sets which are in immaculate condition, artistic, are associated with culture, involve historical stories and express the nation’s essence,” said Dung.
Therefore, some of his collection is from the Ly and Trinh Dynasties or Chinese emperor Kangxi’s reign, dating back to the 17th or 19th century.
Dung also has a skilled artisan in Bat Trang Pottery Village in Hanoi who makes replicas of classic tea sets that he is unable to get his hands on.
Dung has collected tea sets from nations who have a tea drinking culture such as China, Japan, Singapore and North Korea.
“To me, researching the culture of drinking tea is a passion and collecting old tea sets reinvigorates that passion. Teapots are tangible evidence of history that carry cultural meaning through periods of history,” said Dung, adding that people can touch them, hold them and understand more about their culture and customs of the forefathers via tea pots.
Dung’s collection is diverse from models, shapes to materials. There are simple sets such as round pots made of dried coconut fruit or weaved by reed and bamboo to complicated pottery products made of terra-cotta with elegant patterns. Some of them are round, oval, square or pakua, but many of them have elegant shapes of a swan, a buffalo, a banana flower or a turtle.
Dung has written Van Minh Tra Viet (Vietnamese tea civilization) which will be published next month.
Apart from researching tea, Dung is also well-known for his study ‘100 years of Vietnamese pho (noodles)’ and studies on the relics of Thang Long-Hanoi and Vietnamese history in general.
|An old teapot from the 17th century owned by Trinh Quang Dung, head of HCMC Institute of Physics’ Solar Electricity Development - Photos: My Tran|
Dung has a collection of bells from many countries, paintings made of oil on canvas and lacquer expressing some significant cultural and historical features of Vietnam.
He said: “We have to use culture to refresh our history and use history as a base of culture. Culture is the soul of a country, so we have to develop and preserve it.
“That’s why I write books and collect antiquess in the hope that the younger generations keep a grip on our culture.”
Dung is also a scientific researcher who has spent about six years researching the use of solar energy for his house at 71/2 Nhat Chi Mai Street in HCMC’s Tan Binh District.
He calls the energy system used in his house as ‘smart solar energy’ which helps him to save nearly VND1 million each month on energy fees.
Now, he is head of HCMC Institute of Physics’ Solar Electricity Development. He also has undertaken some remarkable energy studies.