March, 01 2014 09:19:45

Hue heritage in safe hands: official

A royal ceremonial procession under the Nguyen Dynasty is reenacted in the central city of Hue. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
THUA THIEN–HUE (VNS)— Hue authorities held an online dialogue yesterday to address concerns about conservation of the city's UNESCO-recognised heritage including its complex of royal monuments and nha nhac (Hue royal court music).

Deputy chairman of the local People's Committee Ngo Hoa, who is in charge of the local government's cultural programmes, said during the discussion with people from through out the country that local conservation works are conforming to the Vietnamese Law of Heritage.

"I affirm that there are no restoration works done that do not comply with the Heritage Law, Construction Law, other under-law regulations as well as international treaties on conservation," he said.

Hoa's statement came following much criticism from people around the country who said the conservation of Hue monuments was sometimes poorly done, and even resulted in ancient monuments being rebuilt as new structures.

Hoa said careful research had been performed before conservation work began. The conservation project at Can Chanh Palace inside the Royal Citadel, for instance, took 10 years for research to be completed, he said.

Phan Thanh Hai, director of the Hue Monument Conservation Centre, said the renovation of monuments had not taken place as part of the centre's conservation work.

He said every project was done with the intention of returning the monuments to their original appearance, but in some cases, additional structures were needed for protecting them, such as adding lightning conductors to high buildings.

However, concerns by people who care about conservation were not about the additional facilities required for protection of buildings, but they, including those who are working in conservation, talked about the intentional collapsing of old brick walls to allow for the rebuilding using new bricks.

Also, they found wood had been used for replacements, though it caused monuments to lose their authenticity.

According to deputy chairman Ngo Hoa, heritage-based tourism is the key economic sector in Hue, thus local authorities are aware of exploiting the heritage values in a sustainable manner.

He said authorities had made many attempts to involve the private sector in conservation projects to protect monuments in Hue from the ravages of time.

Additionally, Phan Tien Dung, director of the local Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the department was working to link heritage-based tourism to tour programmes exploring Hue nature landscapes, fine cuisine, unique garden houses and traditional craft villages.

The conservation centre also promised to highlight nha nhac and draw more attention by the public to lectures and music training programmes.

Hue Festival 2014, the biannual cultural event that highlights the former royal capital as the "City of Festivals", will begin in 42 days. Thus, many audiences wonder whether this eighth event in the past 16 years will include new performances.

Nguyen Van Thanh, deputy director of Hue Festival Centre, who are the organisers of festivals in Hue, said this year's event would retain the purpose of promoting Hue culture to the world via international visitors and art troupes who participate in the event.

Shows at the event include performances by 40 international art troupes from different continents and in various art forms.

However, the discussion failed to reveal whether new and interesting shows would be on display at the coming festival. Local residents and audiences around the country are concerned that the increased cost for tickets to some shows at the event will exclude domestic audiences.

The royal banquet at Night at Royal Palace, for instance, costs US$95 per person. Thanh said his colleagues from other Asian events advised him to charge $100 per show, and he said the rate being charged in Hue is not high.

Meanwhile, Hai of the monument centre named the chef of the banquet, noting that she is the granddaughter of a royal chef from the Nguyen dynasty (1802-1945) in Hue, and guaranteeing that the cuisine would be the finest.

Also, bowls and tools used at the banquet were restored to appear as original, which increased the cost of the banquet, he said. — VNS

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