A giant turtle will join Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam’s pantheon of embalmed national heroes, forever preserved at the legendary site where a heroic 15th century emperor is said to have returned a divine sword to a turtle god.
Like Uncle Ho, the heroic giant reptile Cu Rua serves as an important symbol of Vietnam’s struggle against a foreign invader. The Yangtze giant softshell turtle came to represent the golden turtle god who, according to legend, gifted warrior-emperor Le Loi a magic sword named “heaven’s will,” which he used to drive out an invading Chinese army.
The ornate mausoleum was constructed on “The Lake of the Returned Sword,” where Le is believed to have given back heaven’s will; it is also the place Cu Rua spent the better part of her 200 years before dying in early 2016. Thanks to the embalming process, she will now be able to continue to inspire new generations like some kind of 372 pound (168kg) green Lenin. Fittingly enough, the lake is only a short drive from Ho Chi Minh’s eternal resting place.
Cu Rua was not only important in terms of her connection to the legend, she was also one of the last of her species. The lake was originally home to several of the giant turtles before they slowly died off, one them now being displayed alongside Cu Rua. There are now only four remaining Yangtze giant softshell turtles in the world, none of which have distributed any mystical weapons.
Both Ho and Cu’s resting places are located in Hanoi, the location of President Donald Trump and North Korean President Kim Jong-un’s recent unsuccessful meeting. Kim took the opportunity to pay his respects to Vietnam’s revolutionary hero, no stranger to the practice of preserving national leaders given that his father and grandfather are displayed in a similar manner back in Pyongyang.
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