An amateur coin collector has amassed a huge hoard of ancient Vietnamese money dating back nearly a thousand years in his life-long quest to preserve part of the country's history.
Nguyen Van Thao
Nguyen Van Thao, 49, from Bac Ninh Province, has a collection of coins weighing six tonnes and dating back to the 10th century Dinh Dynasty.
He became interested in old coins when, as a child, he found a bag of coins in a junk shop and bought them.
Years later, he came across an excavation by villagers after heavy rain had exposed ancient ceramic and porcelain in a hillside. He was drawn to old coins uncovered by the rains and excavation and was fascinated by their different shapes and designs.
On business trips, he would search out old coins, which were often traded at low prices before being sold to collectors in China.
Thao studied the coins he collected and found many had early origins and high historical value.
"My wife and I spend most of our wages on old coins," Thao said. "There was a time we even mortgaged the house so I could buy jars of coins."
Thao quit the job to devote more time to his coin search, travelling to remote and mountainous areas hunting for rare coins. On one occasion, he wanted to buy ancient coins from a H'Mong ethnic village, but the leader refused. Thao said he persisted, visiting the village regularly, and eventually managed to exchange a jar of coins for some fried fish with sauce.
Coins stuck together
After 20 years, Thao's collection spans from the Dinh Dynasty (968-980) to the last emperor, Bao Dai, who ruled (1926-1945). He also has paper money from the French colonial period and the American War, and bars of gold and silver used as forms of payment.
Thao said he hopes his efforts will contribute to the preservation of Vietnam's culture and history for future generations. The Vietnam Book of Record Organisation is considering recognising Thao for having the country's largest private ancient money collection.