Eternal shell: Sacred turtle embalmed in Hanoi

phys.org | 3/21/2019 | Staff
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A sacred giant turtle that died in Hanoi's storied Hoan Kiem lake has been given a new lease on life by city authorities who have embalmed the beloved creature for posterity—and tourist visits.

Hanoians were shocked by the death of the critically endangered Swinhoe softshell turtle in 2016, believing its passing was a sign of ominous times ahead.

Reptile - Line - Turtles - City - Hoan

The reptile is believed to be the last in a long line of large turtles in the city's central Hoan Kiem lake, revered as symbols of Vietnam's independence struggle according to mythical lore passed down for generations.

Nicknamed "Cu Rua" which means "great grandparent turtle", it was thought to be between 80 and 100 years old when it died.

Visitors - Turtle - Resurrection - Ngoc - Son

Visitors welcomed the turtle's resurrection at the popular Ngoc Son temple on Hoan Kiem lake, where the 170-kilogram (375-pound) creature was put on display last week, sitting atop a red carpet in a glass case with an ornately carved wooden frame.

"It's great to see it here. Everyone can admire it now, a symbol of Hanoi," tourist Tran Thi Anh told AFP Thursday.

Creature - Sits - Glass

The enormous creature sits near another which was similarly embalmed and encased in glass in 1968.

They are not the only preserved heroes in Vietnam: the country's revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh is on display at a sprawling concrete and grass Ba Dinh square in the city's French Quarter.

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