Hanoi to erect fences around historic stone steles

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Hanoi is planning to build fences around the 82 steles at Van Mieu (Temple of Literature) that have been recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

The steles, engraved with the names of doctorate holders, date back to 1442.

The fences would be made of glass or wood, said Dang Kim Ngoc, director of Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam Scientific and Cultural Activities Center, adding that they were awaiting approval from related agencies

In the meantime, the steles, located at Vietnam's first university Quoc Tu Giam, are being temporarily protected with plastic ropes and fabric, the director said.

Experts have said the stone slabs are facing risks of serious damage as thousands of people come to touch them for good luck during the Lunar New Year festival and before annual university exams.

The risks would be higher with more visitors expected to come after the UNESCO recognized the steles a World Heritage last month, they said.

Last year the temple welcomed more than one million visitors and over 300,000 during this year's Tet holiday (Lunar New Year).

Vietnam second documentary heritage to be recognized by UNESCO, Van Mieu's steles are engraved with records of 82 royal examinations held from 1442-1779 under the Le and Mac dynasties in old Chinese characters.

They were placed on the backs of stone tortoises that symbolize longevity and permanence.

Besides the protection measures, the center was also completing the translation of all related information about the steles, including their content, into English, Ngoc said.

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