A Hanoi man has suggested erecting a sculpture of a giant gold turtle near the iconic Hoan Kiem (Returning Sword Lake) to give Vietnam an ‘identifying symbol’ similar to Singapore’s Merlion and France’s Eiffel Tower.
Ta Hong Quan has submitted his proposal to the Hanoi administration, detailing how the statue should be designed and where it should be placed.
Hoan Kiem Lake is otherwise known by locals as Ho Guom (Sword Lake) for short.
The sculpture, to be made of pure bronze and gold, should be 2.5 meters long by 3.5 meters tall, and weigh six to ten metric tons, Quan told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper on Tuesday.
The Hanoi resident suggested putting the massive statue near the Hang Khay – Dinh Tien Hoang intersection, where a giant Swiss clock, a gift from Switzerland to the Vietnamese capital currently sits, or in the park overlooking the Ly Thai To Statue and City Hall.
Quan said it could take two years to finish building the statue, with money raised from the private sector rather than from Hanoi’s budget.
The man said he had come up with the idea of making the golden turtle statue in 2011 and has since been looking for references and feedback from researchers before delivering his final proposal.
“Vietnam is in need of an identity symbol,” he told Tuoi Tre.
“When you go to Singapore, you will see their iconic Merlion landmark, and the Eiffel Tower when you are in France and the Statue of Liberty in the U.S.
“So, tell me, what is the identity symbol of Vietnam?”
Asked why the symbol of Vietnam should be a golden turtle, Quan said the reptile plays an important role in several Vietnamese legends.
As legend has it, a golden turtle helped King An Duong Vuong build the Co Loa Citadel in the 3rd century BC. In the 15th century, another golden turtle gave a sacred sword to King Le Loi, helping him to defeat Chinese invaders, and earning Hanoi’s iconic lake its name.
Quan added that the turtle has long been a symbol in Vietnamese traditions, culture and spiritual beliefs.
“Should my idea be supported by Hanoi’s authorities, we will hold a contest to find the official design of the statue,” he added.
Duong Trung Quoc, a local historian, said the idea of putting up a golden turtle statue near Ho Guom was first put forward several years ago, as Hanoi was about to celebrate its millennial anniversary in October 2010.
“In that specific context, the idea was considered a good one, but not today,” Quoc told Tuoi Tre.
The historian emphasized that any construction proposed for the area surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake should be seriously vetted.
“And we should be even more cautious when the idea involves such a spiritual symbol as the golden turtle,” he concluded.