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Great architect

By Develv
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I did a lot of research about this wonderful person. It is unfortunate that there is little information about him, and I had to collect everything bit by bit for a long time.
Nguyễn An (1381-1453), known in Chinese as Ruan An (pinyin) or Juan An (Wade-Giles), was a Ming dynasty eunuch, architect, and hydraulics specialist between the first and fifth decades of the 15th century. Born in Vietnam, he was taken as tribute from Vietnam to China and later became a eunuch and architect in service to the Chinese emperors. He, along with numerous architects, such as master designers and planners Cai Xin, Chen Gui, and Wu Zhong, master carpenter Kuai Xiang, and master mason Lu Xiang, was an important builder of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Under the reign of the Zhengtong Emperor, Nguyen An had a role in the reconstruction of the wall of Beijing. He was also a hydraulics specialist, and was involved in at least three hydraulic projects and had a flawless record.

- Nguyễn An - Wikipedia

The forbidden palace was designed by many many great architects. Amongst them was a Vietnamese named Nguyen An. He was taken to Ming dynasty as tribute and served the Ming Emperor as an eunuch.
According to historical records, he was in charge of many major projects during his lifetime, and his talent in architecture and engineering were highly praised by government officials.

Nguyen An from the book The Eunuchs of the Ming Dynasty by Henry Tsai:
"Brought to China as tribute, Nguyen An quickly earned Emperor Yongle's trust, mainly because of his remarkable loyalty, frugality, and above all, his well-known incorruptibility. But Nguyen An was also a talented artist, ingenious architect, and an expert civil engineer with a caliber comparable to the Renaissance da Vinci or Michelangelo. Nguyen An was promoted to grand eunuch."
Nguyễn An: The Man Who Built the Forbidden City
During the Ming Dynasty’s invasion of Vietnam in 1407, many Vietnamese professionals, such as poets, military experts, architects, engineers, etc., were captured and brought back to China.  Among them was a prisoner named Nguyễn An (Juan An in Chinese), a man who would later design and oversee the construction of the Peking Citadel and the entire Forbidden City of Beijing.

Before being shipped to China, Nguyễn An was a talented official under the rule of the Trần Dynasty.  However, he was later taken by the Ming Dynasty and brought back to China as a gift from the illegitimate Hồ Dynasty.  From then on, he would be known in Chinese history as Juan An, a eunuch of the Ming’s imperial court.
For his talents, Nguyễn An was given the task of constructing the Peking Citadel and the Forbidden City of Peking (Beijing).  The size of his workforce was literally in the millions, composing of soldiers, workers, and prisoners.  Interestingly, a large number of the laborers who worked on the Peking Citadel were also Vietnamese, captured by the Ming on their invasions.

The fact that Juan An (Nguyễn An) was really a Vietnamese person had been obscured in Chinese history for centuries.  It is only recently, with long and intricate research, did these facts began to surface.  Research made by the University of Cambridge clearly states that “the chief architect was an Annamese eunuch named Juan An (d. 1453) who also played a major role in rebuilding Peking,” (Mote & Twitchett, 1988: 241).  Annam is what Vietnam was referred to by the Chinese during this period, even though that was never our official name.  

Le Thanh Hoa, Du Mien.  Vietnam: The Springhead of Eastern Cultural Civilization. Trans. Joseph M. Vo.  San Jose: The Vietnam Library Publications, 2010.

Mote, Frederick W. & Denis Twitchett.  The Cambridge History of China, Volume 7, Part 1. Cambridge: Press Syndicate of the University of Cambridge, 1988.…

"Although Vietnam had established its independence of China by defeating the Mongol conquerors at the Battles of Bac Danh, a tributary system was still in operation. To demonstrate their willingness to enter into trade and alliance with Imperial China, neighbouring countries such as Vietnam would periodically send tribute missions to the Chinese emperor and would then be permitted to conduct trade at officially designated trading cities. It is unfortunate but nevertheless the case that people could be included as tribute goods, which is what happened to Nguyen An. The Chinese court had a long tradition of castrating male servants and, although it sounds barbaric and painful, becoming a court eunuch was regarded by some young men as a desirable career choice. A Eunuch presented no threat to the Emperor’s court of wives and concubines, it was thought, so would be more likely to participate in court and imperial household affairs. It appears that eunuchs had no limit on achievements and could even rise as high as did the great Admiral Zheng He.

Little is known of Nguyen An’s early years in China but he is recorded in Chinese chronicles as being instructed to design an overall plan for Beijing citadel, including numerous offices, houses and palaces, by the Emperor Taizong. Nguyen An had not yet reached the age of thirty. He gained considerable prestige and respect for his ability in managing a workforce of 10,000 soldiers in building the various buildings swiftly and according to budget. An enormous amount and variety of building materials was necessary and opportunities for error must have been enormous. Nguyen An’s reputation was made: his next task was to rebuild three temples and he managed this so successfully that the emperor rewarded him with fifty taels of gold, one hundred taels of silver, eight tons of silk and 10,000 yuan in cash. From then onwards, he was kept busy with a dizzying array of architectural projects in Beijing and also along the river and canal system of China, on which cities and countryside alike relied for flows of food and goods, as well as transportation. Repairing and strengthening the dykes of the system was a large-scale undertaking.

Nguyen An achieved a great deal and was obviously a talented and diligent individual. It is impossible to know what he might have achieved had he been left to follow his destiny in his home country."

- John Walsh, Shinawatra University, March 2007

Nguyen An from Ha Dong was known as a wunderkind and had a talent for architecture.
He was less than 16 years old when he participated in the association of builders of architectural masterpieces.
Before he died (72 old), Nguyen An gave the last instruction: To use all his wealth not to build a tomb for himself, as the people of that time usually did, but to give it to people affected by floods in the places where Nguyen An was going to, but not managed.
He lived in asceticism and modesty, despite the fact that he received huge sums, and after his death did not leave himself a single coin.
Doctor of Sciences in History Quỳnh Cư 
Bonus about Ancient Beauty
Vietnamese beauty standards in the past were quite different. Men had a variety of beauty standards depending on their occupations. Men could have lots of facial hair and muscular bodies if one was a warrior, a general, etc. Men could be femininely beautiful without facial hair, had pale skin, and thinner bodies if one was a Confucius scholar, a teenage boy, a eunuch, etc. These stayed and continue to stay consistent throughout the periods. (c)
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Reaper1998's avatar

sounds like a awesome guy

kaguyahime862003's avatar
Very beautiful and thank you for the all the interesting information behind it also! Makes it come even more alive :-)
Develv's avatar
Thank you to!:) (Smile) 
mogoot's avatar
i have removed this from my favorites
Hekate321's avatar
I love, love, love the detail, time and dedication you put into your works, the knowledge you collect just makes me swell with love. It's just truly breath taking and may I say I love the way you make him flow with grace and beauty.
Develv's avatar
I thank you for your appreciation and kind words, each of your comments makes me smile! This is very important for me, because I put a lot of effort into finding the correct and truthful information about eunuchs. I want to show people pure beauty without vulgarities, stereotypes and fetishism, to clear the good name of eunuchs from slander, bad myths and centuries-old lies.
BeakTVArt's avatar
Really amazing artwork and description is amazing. Great work :D
Learning history is amazing :)
Develv's avatar
Thank you! ^^
BeakTVArt's avatar
You're welcome :)
Develv's avatar
It's not a woman, it's a man, more precisely, androgynous eunuch and he is real historical person. If he has a breast, then a small one, hidden behind his clothes. Perhaps he could have big breasts, like women, I don’t know. This is not important. More important is his personality and contribution to humanity.  
CORVUSTears's avatar
Very interesting historical person :D One of my favourites ones, next to Zheng He i Bagoas :3
Develv's avatar
Thank you!) Interestingly, Nguyen And and Zheng He - they lived at the same time and served one emperor, who greatly valued them :)
CORVUSTears's avatar
Very interesting :D You're welcome <3
RenewedEden's avatar
So lovely. The details on the blossoms are beautiful.
Develv's avatar
SketchMonster1's avatar
She's gorgeous - amazing pencil artwork and execution. Excellent job. Come take a look at my page.
LucilliaSnowfox's avatar
This is a man, but you're right. He's drawn so lovely and elegantly it's amazing 🤗
frogsvalley's avatar
your skinshading is super smooth and pretty! The penciltexture looks great on the blossoms, too. The scrollholding hand looks smaller than the other one though.
Develv's avatar
Thank! I noticed my mistake and fixed :)
Elsasgirlfriend's avatar
Your art is always so great! And the amount of research you have done on this person is just incredible! I love this!
Develv's avatar
Thank you! ^__^
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