Hanoi ceramic road decays amid neglect

By Trinh Nguyen, Thanh Nien News

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Hanoi's Ceramic Mosaic Mural has rapidly deteriorated due to neglect and abuse in the four years since it was completed to commemorate the city's millennial anniversary.

The ceramic mural along the Red River dike, recognized by Guinness World Records as the world’s largest mosaic in 2010, has fallen into a wretched state. 

At the section portraying old brown houses most of the tiles are gone leaving holes one can easily put a fist through. The section featuring a big mask used in classical tuong theater looks utterly ulcerated.

Along the 4-km road, numerous street vendors have pulled tarps over the mural to create drink shops and food courts. The pervasive stench of urine only adds to the shameful spectacle, particularly in the feverish April heat.

Artist and journalist Nguyen Thu Thuy, who designed the wall, said its preservation, was originally a partnership between her firm, the Tan Ha Noi  Art Company, and the Hanoi Urban Decoration Department.

“At the moment [the preservation has] fallen into neglect, since I am making paintings on Truong Sa (Spratly islands) and haven't been in Hanoi. Moreover, heavy rain have made a bad situation worse.”

Thuy also said that, Tan Ha Noi was only responsible for a three-year period that ended last year. Now, the mural is the sole responsibility of the Hanoi Urban Decoration Management Board. The latter board is currently seeking funding from the city for its preservation. 

Le Thiet Cuong, a famous artist and a prestigious curator of many ceramic exhibitions, told Thanh Nien:  “Such poor preservation effort could only be found in Vietnam. 
"Regular people make sure to wash every day, some even take restorative tonics. We put on sunscreen just to go outside, and yet an important outdoor public works project that endures the same harsh weather every day lacks any funds for preservation!”

Cuong also seemed concerned that there might have been a problem during the construction period in properly surveying the road.

The final culprit remains the residents living around the Guinness-awarded road .

“The idea of improving the people’s behavior is pure vanity,” he said. “Just take a look at the mural near Long Bien Bridge, and you will know why. There is no toilet, so people urinate right on the wall.”

“The city spent a great deal building this mosaic; why didn't they think about building some public toilets to protect it?”

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