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Ly Son Island to restore Vietnam’s biggest whale skeleton

03 March 2017 | 10:42:00 AM

The central island district of Ly Son plans to restore a whale skeleton and an exhibition centre for whale skeletons with an investment of 10 billion VND (442,477 USD).

Vice Chairwoman of the district’s People’s Committee, Pham Thi Huong, said the restoration project will be built at Lang Tan Temple (Temple of the Whale) in the commune of An Vinh on Ly Son Island.

According to elderly residents of the commune, the 24m-long skeleton - believed the longest such skeleton found in Vietnam - was buried in the fishing village of An Hai nearly 300 years ago.

Islanders said the whale was found dead on the beach, but was too heavy to carry to burial inland and fishermen dug a big hole to bury it on the beach. They surmised that the whale had died off Hoang Sa (Paracel) Island of Vietnam and drifted ashore on Ly Son Island.

Rocks formed by volcanoes 30 million years ago lure travellers

Subsequently, local fishermen excavated the skeleton and placed it in a temple, where it was an object of worship. The Lang Tan Temple has been recognised as a national historical site.

However, some parts of the skeleton were damaged over the years and not repaired due to lack of restoration technology.

The district’s vice chairwoman said another whale skeleton was also found in the area, and the province will approve a supplementary fund of 4.1 billion VND (181,415 USD) for its restoration.

Whale temples, known as Lang Ong, are often seen in fishing villages, reflecting an old fishermen’s belief in the whale’s power to guard their lives at sea.

Fishermen also express respect for the giant ocean mammals when they find it dead, and perform a respectful mourning ceremony. They build a bamboo basket to carry it to a final resting place in a temple. They believe this dignified burial and worship confer luck on all the fishermen’s descendants, who still make their living from the sea.

Ly Son Island, 30km off the coast of the central province of Quang Ngai, is a tranquil destination with 21,000 inhabitants, most of whom make their living from farming garlic and spring onions, and fishing.

It was formed by five mountains, of which four are dormant volcanoes.

Centuries-old houses have been preserved, as has Am Linh Pagoda, built to worship the souls of sailors who died on long voyages.

A local museum displays over 200 ancient documents and 100 exhibits that prove that Hoang Sa and Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands belong to Vietnam.

In 2013, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recognised the islands’ Hoang Sa fest as an intangible cultural heritage.

Observed for hundreds of years by families on the islands, the festival pays tribute to local men who enlisted in the Hoang Sa Flotilla to patrol the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos in order to mine resources and defend the nation’s sovereignty over the area.

In previous centuries, the An Vinh communal house served as a recruitment centre for soldiers to protect the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos from the Nguyen Dynasty in the 17th century.


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