King Lê Hiến Tông’s Poems on Fans

The fan is a common everyday necessity in the life of the people. Apart from providing currents of cool wind and protection from the sun and rain, the fan is also used as an aid in traditional art performances.

For men of letters, the fan can also help them express themselves. Composing poems on fans is an elegant and profound pastime.


A painting of King Lê writing his poems on a fan.

According to historical records, kings who were known for their literary talents also frequently wrote poems on fans to express themselves as they ruled the country. In 1503, as was recorded by official history, a high-ranking mandarin by the name of Dương Trực Nguyên asked the king to build levee and dikes by the side of the Tô Lịch River and dig an irrigation system in Thượng Phúc District (now Thường Tín) to prevent flooding and drought while doing good for agriculture. Lê Hiến Tông (1498-1504) on this occasion composed a Chinese character poem and ordered it to be written down on the fan. In doing so, the king wanted to ask the courtiers to pay greater attention to the lives of the people by carefully observing natural disasters and pandemics, the top concerns of the ruling house:





循省尤 臨理,



A portrayal of the royal fan on which King Lê Hiến Tông’s poem was written.

On the occasion of the Double-Fifth Festival, the Thăng Long-Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre organized an online exhibition titled “The propitious wind of Đoan Dương”, introducing a number of unique customs practiced by both the noblemen and commoners in the Double-Fifth Festival. For the first time, a portrayal of the royal fan measuring 2.4m in length on which King Lê Hiến Tông’s poem was written in 1503, was put on display.

The online exhibition can be visited at the following addresses: and

Thăng Long – Hà Nội Heritage Conservation Centre


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