Hanoi’s stone turtles at risk

September 27, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Vietnam

HANOI, 27 September 2012: The Scientific and Cultural Centre has presented new measures to preserve historical stone steles at Hanoi’s Temple of Literature.

The centre research unit chief, Nguyen Van Tu, said there would be an annual renovation of the steles to protect them against degradation and vandalism.

“The damage is currently affecting the turtle statues, upon which commemorative stone slabs are mounted.”

It has become a habit of Vietnamese visitors, in particular young people, to touch the heads of the turtles for good luck during the lunar New Year, or during school examination periods. This causes long-term damage.

Restricted areas have been set up to combat this problem and display panels have been placed to present information about the 82 steles, which were recognised as being part of the world’s documentary heritage by UNESCO in 2010.

“As part of the project the beauty of the monuments will be improved by the introduction of ornamental plants, while fences and doors will be repaired.”

The project aims to preserve the invaluable steles which commemorates doctors and scholars from the Le to Nguyen dynasties (1442 to 1779).

Temple of Literature, built during the reign King Ly Nhan Tong in 1070, is one of several temples in the country that honour Confucius, along with sages and scholars.

It is also the location of the “Imperial Academy” (Quoc Tu Giam), Vietnam’s first national university.

Nowadays, the temple is a popular site with both locals and foreign visitors and is the site for many of Hanoi’s cultural and educational activities.

It has welcomed over 700,000 tourists since the beginning of the year, 60% of them international visitors.

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