Interesting Facts about Ung Lang - Emperor Khai Dinh's Tomb

Interesting Facts about Ung Lang - Emperor Khai Dinh

Khai Dinh’s tomb is the only tomb among the Nguyen Dynasty’s imperial tombs in Hue that did not follow the traditional architecture. It is a condense architectural complex located on a hill which looks more like a European palace when seen from afar. Besides, unlike other imperial tombs whose material was mainly resourced locally, most of the material to build this tomb was imported. What surely catches your eyes when visiting this tomb is its vibrant interior with bas-reliefs made of colorful glass mosaic and huge ceiling paintings.


Ung Lang is the only the tomb whose the king’s grave is right inside the palace, not outside and surrounded with a wall like others. On the top of his grave, there is a statue of the king himself sitting on the throne. There is another statue of the king standing in another room.


I love the beautiful painting of the 9 dragons hiding themselves in the clouds on the ceiling. My tour guide friend Vân once told me a story that people woven about this painting. As the story goes, this painting was made by a famous painter called Phan Van Tanh. One day, the king visited his tomb while it was under construction. At that time, everybody there stopped working to greet the king except for Tanh. He was absorbed in working on the painting on the ceiling. The king was not happy about that, especially when he saw Tanh painted the dragons - the symbol of the king by his foot not by hand. He had Tanh come over and angrily asked him the reasons for his disrespect. Tanh explained that he had to finish the painting to meet the king’s deadline so he could not come to greet the king. And about painting the dragons with his foot, it was because for these kinds of ceiling paintings, if he painted with his hand, the distance from his eye to his hand is very short, which hard for him to make a perfect painting. Painting with his foot allowed him to have a better sight what he was painting. To such a smart answer, the king, even though angry, forgave him. The king said: “If there were two Phan Van Tanh in Vietnam, I will chop your head.”


There are more interesting facts about Ung Lang waiting for you to discover. Why don’t you come visit Hue and find out yourself?