UNESCO recognizes another Vietnam site

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Stone steles in the form of a tortoise-mounted tablets at the Temple of LIterature in Hanoi.

Hanoi's Temple of Literature will be granted official UNESCO "Memory of the World" status at a ceremony in Vietnam's capital city February 25.

The recognition will be given to the 82 stone steles at the Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature Royal College), news website Vietnamplus reported Friday.

Pham Thi Thuy Hang, deputy director of the Centre for Science and Culture Activities at Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam, said the ceremony will be organized simply but solemnly, with the participation of UNESCO's Vietnam representatives, and both central and municipal authorities.

The event will feature a demonstration of the traditional Vietnamese ritual in which a person returns home to pay thanks to their ancestors after achieving academic honors. The screening of a documentary film on the history of the Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam and traditional music will also be part of the ceremony.

The 82 stone steles commemorate the Royal examinations held between 1442 and 1780, during the reign of the Le and Mac dynasties.

Written in Chinese, the inscriptions display the names of all exam graduates.

The steles, one of the temple's biggest tourist draws, illuminate the dynasty's attitude towards the training and employment of talented individuals.

The steles were designed as tortoise-mounted tablet because the tortoise is traditionally considered a symbol of longevity and everlastingness in Vietnamese culture.

Van Mieu temple was built in 1070 during the reign of King Ly Nhan Tong (1066-1127) and dedicated to Confucius, sages and scholars.

Six years later, in 1076,  Quoc Tu Giam was build next to the temple as a place where royal children were trained. Later, it became Vietnam's first university.

Today, Van Mieu-Quoc Tu Giam attracts thousands of visitors every day.

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