Hanoi rejects idea of building turtle statue as new icon

By Doan Loan   May 13, 2017 | 11:57 am GMT+7

Officials say the capital city already has many architectural and historic symbols and doesn't need a new one.

Hanoi’s culture department has nipped the idea of building a turtle statue, saying the thousand-year-old city doesn't really need a new symbol.

The proposal is "unsuitable," the department said on Friday in an official response to Asia Friendship, the company that wants to build a gold and bronze turtle of 3.5 meters tall next to the iconic Sword Lake.

In the statement, culture officials also pointed out that Hanoi is already famous for many symbols. Khue Van Cac, the pavilion inside the Temple of Literature, has already been recognized by law as the official symbol of the city, they said.

The pavilion was built in 1805 on four stone stilts with two red windows on top and an elaborate roof. The icon graces the VND100,000 note.

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Khue Van Pavilion in the Temple of Literature. Photo by VnExpress

Culture officials added that any construction near the Sword Lake must be “carefully considered.” The lake is a national heritage site.

The idea of building a turtle statue was first put forth in 2011 by Ta Hong Quan, a local artist, who mentioned it again recently.

Quan said Vietnam lacks a recognizable icon, like France’s Eiffel Tower or the Statue of Liberty in the U.S.

In Vietnam, the turtle god is worshipped and part of many legends of defiance and independence.

One says that it helped An Duong Vuong, a Vietnamese ruler during the third century BC, build his spiral, shell-like Co Loa Citadel.

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An artist impression for a turtle statue by the Sword Lake. Photo by VnExpress

The Sword Lake is also tied to a turtle god legend and a mythical sword that King Le Loi used in the 15th century to fight Chinese invaders.

Local media have also reported strong public opposition to a turtle statue. Many people said it would obstruct the space around the central lake.

Some said the money should be used to clean up the lake. A rare giant turtle which was loved by many Hanoians died in the lake in January last year, reportedly due to pollution.