Not too famous on historical and cultural topics such as War Remnants Museum; Ho Chi Minh Museum or do not have many masterpieces of art as in the Ao Dai Museum; Fine Arts Museum… however, the Museum of Traditional Medicine still attracts thousands of visitors because of its unique features that no other museums in Vietnam can show out.
The Museum of Traditional Medicine in Ho Chi Minh city, also known as Fito Museum, is home to numerous unique and well-preserved exhibits of herbal medicine, items of making medicine and famous physicians in Vietnam. With well-organized exhibition rooms, this is one of the best places to visit in Ho Chi Minh City.
The history of the birth of Fito – Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine
During many years of collecting with the passion of Mr. Lê Khắc Tâm, a person working in the pharmaceutical industry, the Museum was born. With the enthusiasm from the young age, love for the profession and attachment to the traditional medicine industry, he has realized many cultural values of the Vietnamese people when he worked as medical profession. Since then he cherished to launch a museum of traditional medicine. And at the end, Fito was built in 2003 and published in 2007 with a scale of 6 floors, 18 rooms on a total area of 600m2. The museum is designed entirely of wood with countless exquisite motifs. The old wooden door frames were transferred directly from the Northern Delta to build, creating an ancient and extremely warm look. Here, the Museum has recreated images, clearly described artifacts as well as engravings so that visitors can visualize all the activities of the ancient physicians such as examination and treatment, cure diseases, make medicine…
What to see in Museum of Traditional Medicine
As soon as you step foot to museum, there is a peaceful appearance, relate to the traditional house of Vietnamese, with the image of bamboo bushes, wooden door step….The interior of the Museum is designed entirely with wood painted with gold emulsion, and many motifs. And the most important value at this museum is more than 3000 rare and precious artifacts related to Vietnamese traditional medicine from the Stone Age to the present.
Among them can be mentioned the collection of knives and canopies with the age of 2500 years used to disperse and cut medicines. The museum consists of 1 ground floor, 5 floors, with 18 galleries. Each of them contains different topic with a lot of useful knowledge and divides as below:
History of Vietnamese traditional medicine
After being given a guide, you will enter a small room to watch a 15-minute documentary about the history and development of Vietnam’s medical and pharmaceutical industry. There is also a huge treasure of Chinese-Vietnamese and “Chữ Nôm” books. Among them are many precious books of Lê Hữu Trác – a famous Vietnamese physician on 18th-century…
The most labor-intensive work of the museum is the picture of the great Vietnamese tree, carved in wood, honoring the names of 100 famous doctors who have contributed to Vietnamese traditional medicine from the XII to early XX century…
The Altar of the Ancestors
In the middle of the house is the solemn altar of two medical ancestors: Tuệ Tĩnh and Lê Hữu Trác, on both sides hang horizontal paintings, wooden couplets painted with gilded. The stairs are made of a jet black wood. The columns, trusses, handrails of the stairs are all intricately carved. On the left hand side is a gallery of some stones and bronze artifacts dating from prehistoric times related to traditional medicine.
On the right hand side is the hall, displaying 15 gilded paintings of 15 famous physician and authors of traditional Vietnamese medicine from the XIII-XIX centuries.
Outside is a space with shady trees and a small Cham Tower that simulates the entrance to Y Mieu Thang Long built in 1780 in Thang Long, Hanoi. Y Mieu is built in a square shape with two layers of three-room houses facing Southeast.
Vietnamese Traditional Medicine Relic
The 3rd and 2nd floors of museum are home to a collection of scales – pounding medicine, pestles, mortars, tincture jugs, wooden stamps used to print invoices and prescriptions. These tools were used by the ancient Vietnamese to make medicine. For the bronze pestle and mortar, it was often used in drugstores and apothecaries, along with small scales used to weigh medicinal herbs. These tools were brought into Vietnam by foreign merchants around the XVI century. There are also many other items related to medicine that collected from all over the country.
In addition, Fito also has a model of traditional medicine house with many famous herbs. Perhaps the most impressive is the mother-of-pearl painting depicting “Traditional medicine in the life of the Vietnamese community” along with traditional medicine street, Ben Thanh market, Hue citadel and finally Hoan Kiem Lake. This painting has been registered in the Guinness Book of Vietnam Records.
Medicine Liquor jars gallery
Medicinal wine is a method of soaking of a traditional herbal formula in wine for a period of time. It is said that the way to soak wine to achieve the highest quality is buried the pot in the ground. The soaking extracts the health benefits of herbal medicine into a drinkable, effect of activating the blood, regulating the yin and yang of the blood, even cure.
There are many beautiful bottles of medicinal wine on display in this room, and most of them made of crockery and porcelain with many textures.
Model of Medical Institute
The interior of room 16 is decorated in royal style, so the name of this room is Thái Y Viện (Royal Institute of Medical). This is the place to take care of the health of kings and royalty. The gilded paintings hung on the wall have themes related to traditional medicine, picking, growing medicinal plants, and apothecaries.
The most notable is the painting depicting the Trinh lord’s palace in 1781 when Mr. Lê Hữu Trác treated Lord Trịnh Cán – Trịnh Sâm. In the glass cases are displayed a number of rare items for the upper class such as tea sets and medicine cups.
Some notes when visiting the Museum of Traditional Medicine
- Address: 41 Hoang Nhu Khuong, District 10, Ho Chi Minh City.
- Opening hours: 8am – 17pm (closed on Mondays)
- Ticket price: 120,000 VND/person
The Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine is really a place for you to learn about historical values, better understand the Vietnamese medical industry as well as the core humanistic elements that the profession of medicine brings. Let’s come to Fito together to experience and spread the beauty of this “noble” profession!