Hanoi to undertake an urgent mission in heritage preservation

Constructed 300 years ago, Co Che Village’s temple in Phuc Tien Commune, Phu Xuyen District boasts sculptures vividly reflecting the local folk life in the distinctive style of the Le Trung Hung Dynasty. But despite the beautiful interior, the building’s frame is derelict, keeping visitors away.

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Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), a symbolic building of Hanoi, is among a few historical relics enjoying careful preservation.

According to Kieu Duc Manh, the village head, the temple would have collapsed if the district people’s committee had not allocated VND400 million (US$17,500) to urgently repair severely damaged parts. However, to ensure safety, local authorities decided to temporarily shut down the temple. 

Co Che Village’s ancient temple is not alone as a beautiful and culturally significant but endangered site. The data of Ha Noi Department of Culture and Information shows that among 6,000 historical sites of the city, 2,000 are damaged.

For Dan Tham Village’s Temple in My Hung Commune in Thanh Oai District, the day of collapse seems imminent. Wrecked walls and crumbly wooden columns foreshadow an almighty crash in the near future.

“If there is no emergency intervention, the historical site will soon fall to rubble,” said Trinh Minh Thuy, deputy commune head.

Even for structures constructed from blocks of stone, such as Quan Van Stone mausoleum in Thuong Tin District, time wreaks destruction.

Several ritual statues have sunk by half, down to the ground. The others, despite being sculpted from hard stone blocks, are worn and broken.

“However, because of the financial shortage, we cannot do anything to preserve this precious construction,” Le Thi Lieu, deputy head of Thuong Tin District People’s Committee told Ha Noi Moi (New Ha Noi) Newspaper in disappointment.

The lack of funds is the biggest barrier localities face in the process of preserving and restoring historic buildings.

Urgent mission

Hanoi raises hundreds of billion dong to repair historical relics annually, not to mention investments from the private sector. However, money is not the only thing needed to save antique buildings from falling to ruin.

Early this year, Ha Noi People’s Committee asked the city Department of Culture and Information and related agencies to raise people’s awareness in preserving historical sites and accelerating research, aiming to restore buildings based on their original architecture.

Transparency is the key element to heritage preservation, said Truong Minh Tien, the department’s deputy director. Meanwhile, civil monitoring is important in addition to public management to ensure that restorations will be effective.

Nguyen Truong Giang, head of Culture and Sports of Thach That District, on the other hand, stressed appropriate policy as an important solution.

“The city authorities need to create favourable conditions for localities as they seek to mobilise capital. Otherwise, it is almost impossible for us to conduct heritage preservation activities,” he said.

Nguyen Viet Chuc, head of Thang Long Culture Research Institute, recommended Hanoi authorities tighten management and impose punishments on individuals and organisations that bring about negative impacts on historical relics.

In the long-term plan to preserve Hanoi culture by 2030, the city expects to restore and repair 70 per cent of national historical relics.

Source: VietNamNet

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