A statue of a nghe displayed at the exhibition (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - Images and stories of the nghe (a sacred and mythical animal in Vietnamese traditional culture) are currently on display at the capital city’s Temple of Literature, highlighting the important role of this symbol in the history and culture of the country.

The exhibition features 200 photos and documents of the sacred animal which has a lion’s head, a long tail and a dog-like body, that guards temples and communal houses.

The show helps promote the unique features of the traditional art of Vietnam that has been preserved in the community for centuries. It also aims to raise awareness of the sacred symbol while comparing it with other sacred animals from China, Japan and Korea – countries with similar culture and religion to Vietnam.

The exhibition identifies the mythical animal; its appearance at royal palaces, pagodas, temples, communal houses; and statues of nghe created recently by modern artisans.

“The exhibition is the result of cooperation between many individuals and organisations to bring a panoramic and authentic view of nghe, the Vietnamese sacred symbol,” said Le Xuan Kieu, director of the Temple of Literature’s Culture and Science Centre.

Nghe statues were used widely in the past with various facial expressions – happy, joyful, faithful, respectful and serious. It reflects the richness of traditional Vietnamese culture as well as the skill of the craftsmen.

But due to the domination of foreign symbols, many people nowadays do not know much about the nghe and confuse it with other mascots.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism issued regulation No 2662 in 2014 that bans foreign-style symbols, sculptures and worship objects unsuitable for Vietnamese culture.

Since then, organisations, experts and authorities actively worked to restore the nghe to its worthy and sacred position. The exhibition will run until February 15, next year at the Temple of Literature.-VNA