The cultural heritage of Ly Son island district in the central province of Quang Ngai is being effectively preserved thanks to the combined efforts of local people and governing authorities.

Ly Son district is 18 nautical miles off the Vietnamese coast and covers an area of 10 square kilometres. It includes three communes: An Hai, An Vinh and An Binh.

Archaeologists have found that people from the Sa Huynh culture lived on Ly Son Island 3,000 years ago. Then from the late 16th century, numerous clans from the mainland came to the island and have inhabited it ever since.

Since Sa Huynh, Champa and Viet people lived alongside each other, the culture on the islands is now very rich and diverse.

At present, there are 50 heritage sites and 23 old religious buildings in the area. Some of the many pagodas, tombs and temples have been recognised as sites of provincial or national heritage.

The islands also boasts a lot of intangible cultural heritage, such as traditional boat races and the Hoang Sa Soldier Feast and Commemoration Festival, which was recognised as national heritage in April this year.

Since their establishment in 1993, the managing authorities of Ly Son island district have been well aware of the importance of preserving and upholding cultural heritage, considering this to be an important task in socio-economic development.

The district People’s Committee has ordered its culture and information division to regularly survey heritage, restore cultural buildings and artefacts that fall into a bad condition and revive fading cultural forms so that they are not lost forever.

According to Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ly Son district Party Committee Nguyen Tai Luan, 85 percent of the locality’s heritage sites have been restored and their cultural and architectural value remains intact.

In recent years, a number of activities have been revived. The collection of folk songs, proverbs and poems has been declared a great success.

Notably, up to 90 percent of resources for preservation have been contributed by local residents.

Many clans in the district have drawn up their own rules to keep important documents safe. For example, the Dang clan carefully preserved an official decree issued by King Minh Mang nearly 180 years ago on sending soldiers from Ly Son to the Hoang Sa archipelago to erect sovereignty marks.

In April 2009, the clan presented this document to the Quang Ngai provincial People’s Committee, who in turn handed it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used as legal evidence of Vietnam ’s sovereignty over Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos.

This willingness for the islanders to work together with provincial and national authorities to protect their culture has been met with a positive response.

Luan has commented that district authorities will now continue improving local people’s awareness of how to preserve the values of cultural heritage and encourage them to contribute personally to restoration efforts. Some will also be trained so that they can work in the cultural and tourism sector.

He emphasised that it is necessary to consult experts and elderly people who are knowledgeable about the local culture in order to ensure that successful preservation efforts continue.-VNA