Historical significance of the Kiều illustrations in Nguyễn Du Illustrated Works The greatest historical value of the illustrations for the Tale of Kiều in “Nguyễn Du’s Illustrated Works” was the participation of 11 most prominent Vietnamese painters of that era Secondly it was the medium employed. The artists used woodblock printing for their illustrations instead of drawing, sketching or other mediums. The third value was towards the history of publishing. This was the transitional period between different publishing technologies. In 1861, the French brought over printing press for military uses Before this, in Vietnam had existed only one printing technique for all publications: woodblock printing. All the literary works, all the texts – books, newspapers, novels, poems – were printed using woodblock. This technique rendered the publishing process so costly and time-consuming, factoring in the staff carvers and staff printers as well as the materials and tools required: wood, ink, papers, and chisels. This was late 19th early 20th century. At that time, we had no alternative to woodblock printing. But by 1942 when “Nguyễn Du Illustrated Works” came to be, movable type system had been employed in publishing. The Kiều illustrations in this book were printed separately using woodblocks and later affixed to the book. The book owed its value to these detachable prints. They were illustrations accompanying the story and at the same time were artworks that you could hang up in a frame to behold, adding to the stature of both the participating artists and the set of illustrations. What is Kiều to you? Pages after pages of many written works on the Tale of Kiều as well as numerous visual illustrations to the story have unanimously portrayed Kiều as a beautiful and talented woman who has to overcome countless plights in a feudal society setting. For me Kiều represents but one thing: an aspiration to thrive despite the circumstances especially given the political context at the time with her being a woman. In any society, a woman always has to struggle Even in the modern society of today, where feminism and equality have come up quite frequently in discussions, this idea of thriving against and despite the circumstances – if we take into account the social and historical facets and the roles of woman in such context – this aspiration of Kiều always holds true. It holds true for me personally and it holds true for other women in the modern Vietnamese society.