Vietnam's Coat of Arms - a product of artistic creativity, is a complete and meaningful symbol of the country and people of Vietnam. It is filled with a strong aspiration for peace and sovereignty of an independent nation. For years the author of the Coat of Arms was determined to be artist Trần Văn Cẩn. However, on September 9th, 2001, artist Lê Lam wrote an article titled "The person who designed the Coat of Arms" published in Nhân Dân (People) newspaper stating that artist Bùi Trang Chước was the one designing it... Especially, when artist Bùi Trang Chước's family sent requests to authorities asking for the recognition that the Coat of Arms design belonging to him with original documents, the problem of finding the author of the Coat of Arms became more important than ever. During the time from 2001 until now, hundreds of articles about the matter have been published, tens of meeting of authorities were held with the artist Bùi Trang Chước's family to find the real author. Many documents from the National Archive Center III and the artist's private documents provided by his family has been studied and examined.
Artist Bùi Trang Chước was born in 1915 in Phú Thượng, Từ Liêm, Hà Nội. He graduated from Indochina Fine Art College in 1941. In June 1951 he joined the Coat of Arms designing contest. From 1953 to 1955, artist Bùi Trang Chước drew 94 draft designs and a dozen of detail versions of objects he wanted to use in the Coat of Arms design. From those drafts, he made 15 different designs but all followed the same idea. In October 1954, from 300 designs in the contest, 15 designs of artist Bùi Trang Chước were chosen and reported to the Government. The number 1 design had a red background with a golden star, representing the nation's flag; the rising sun symbolized a nation in the East and illustrated the dawn of a new era; the rice flower represented farmers and agriculture while the anvil symbolized workers and industries.
According to artist Bùi Trang Chước's writing "I designed the Coat of Arms" written on April 26th, 1985, he followed the suggestions of President Hồ Chí Minh for the number 1 design - the last one among 15 designs; "The anvil is the symbol of an industry of individual labour, so another symbol of the modern industry should be used instead". After 3 times of adjustment, from early 1955 to September 1955, artist Bùi Trang Chước finished the final design with 1 color version and 2 extracted black and white versions. After finishing those final designs, because of top secret missions assigned to him by the Government, he went to China with the task of designing and printing Vietnam's currency. That is why he couldn't finalize the design after the meeting of the Parliament in September 1955. The task was assigned to artist Trần Văn Cẩn instead.
An important document from the Department of Propagating is the document numbered 237/MT on November 24th, 1954, signed by artist Trần Văn Cẩn, who was in charge of Department of Art. The document specifically said that the 15 designs submitted was from artist Bùi Trang Chước: "In the middle of October 1954, we submitted to the Ministry 15 designs of the Coat of Arms for reporting to the Prime Minister. We waited for a long time but did not hear any news. Recently, the Department of Reception has been pushing us so we assigned artist Bùi Trang Chước, the author of those designs, to come to the Ministry and ask for news about the designs. We also demand the Ministry to give back our submitted designs to edit and finalize."
In June 2003, the Institute of Forensic Science - Ministry of Police officially examined and sent result to the Copyright Department. On October 28th, 2003, the Department announced the result: "The writing "I designed the Coat of Arms" of artist Bùi Trang Chước and the writing "We designed the Coat of Arms" of artist Trần Văn Cẩn were both legitimately written by the late artists."
Three weeks later, on November 19th, 2003, in document numbered 227/BQTG-VHNT, the Copyright Office declared: "The examination shares the same result with what has been discussed. It also matches with suggestions from the consultancy team and the Ministry of Culture and Information. With many investigations and evidences, the Ministry concludes that the Coat of Arms of Vietnam was created jointly by artist Bùi Trang Chước and artist Trần Văn Cẩn. The Minister of Culture and Information reported to the Prime Minister to have the final decision."
On February 9th, 2004, after listening to a report from the Ministry of Culture and Information, opinions of the Deputy Prime Minister and other attendees, the Prime Minister Phan Văn Khải came to a conclusion. On February 27th, 2004 the Government Office issued an announcement numbered 42/TB-VPCP about the conclusion: "The creating of a Coat of Arms was an idea of President Hồ Chí Minh, the Communist Party and the Government. The Coat of Arms is a shared achievement of Vietnam's revolutionary fine art artists, especially artist Bùi Trang Chước - the person who made the designs which were later chosen and finallized - and artist Trần Văn Cẩn - the one who made adjustments according to suggestions from various departments and prepared the design for approval."