Hanoi’s Giant Turtle – an imprint of legend

The Giant Turtle is one of the special symbols, a Vietnam’s national treasure and for more than 500 years with many myths, stories and events behind, the turtle has become an integral part of the history and culture of the city.

The official name of the turtle is Hoan Kiem Turtle (Rafetus leloii), also known locally as Old Tortoise or Magic Turtle. The Hanoi turtle is said to reach a length of 1.8 meters and a weight of about 200 kg. The Old Hanoi turtle is believed to have lived to a very high age, possibly up to hundreds of years. However, there is no exact way to determine its true age. Hoan Kiem turtles are currently listed as threatened with extinction as they are very rare and exotic. Therefore they are now being raised and protected at Sword Lake, Hanoi.

Through years of ups and downs, the Hanoi turtle has become an important symbol of the city and is part of the cultural and historical heritage of Vietnam. The turtle also bears many religious significance and is considered a deity in Vietnamese folk beliefs. Tortoise is one of the four sacred animals in Vietnamese culture as well as in Eastern culture. In Vietnamese temples and pagodas, we often see the image of turtles and cranes. This is a pair of symbols for the harmony of yin and yang, sustainability. Or the symbol of a turtle wearing a stone stele in the Temple of Literature, also with the meaning to say that the poinsettias, the educational success will be enrolled from generation to generation, lasting forever. The Hoan Kiem turtle is associated with the legend that King Le defeated the Ming invaders, returned the sword to the turtle and returned it to The Dragon God.

In peacetime, the Giant turtle still bears an indispensable meaning in the life both spiritual and ordinary of Hanoians. The turtle is specially associated with the subconscious of the people “substance” of the city that every time he floats, it always attracts the love and attention of the city here.
In 1986, Vietnam held a military parade to celebrate the 6th Party Congress. Sword Lake turtle was brought out of the lake and controlled by a team of troops. This is considered one of the special and rare events in the history of the Ho Guom turtle.
In 2005, the whole country celebrated the 60th Anniversary of Independence Day September 2, 1945 – 2005, at this special moment, the Hoan Kiem Turtle also attracted great attention from the people.
On the morning of October 1, 2010, at the opening of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long (Uprising Dragon), Mr. Turtle was also floating. During the Great Tortoise Festival, every day from October 1 to October 10.
In April 2011, a scroll was discovered in the womb of the Hanoi turtle. According to scientists, this scroll is believed to be the record of a poem originating from the Le Dynasty. This is considered an important historical discovery about Vietnamese culture.

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