Tiger head-shaped insignia in Hue royal architecture

As “Ho phu” (tiger head-shaped insignia) is believed to bring longevity and eternal life as well as ward off evil, it is used as decoration in the archways of Hue royal palaces and tombs. Various kinds of “Ho phu” were created by the skilled hands of ancient artisans.

According to cultural researchers, “Ho phu” originated from Sino-Indian culture. Indian legend has it that the Rahu monster had its body cut off after it tried to steal the Amrita - magic nectar that was said to bring immortality. However, its head, (called “Ho phu” in Vietnam) was dipped into the nectar and became immortal.

With “Ho phu” lifting a fire ball at Thai Hoa Palace and “Ho phu” with five claws at Ngo Mon Gate, it is easy to see images of the tiger head-shaped insignia inside the Hue imperial citadel.

In Vietnam, “Ho phu” was used in royal architecture in the Dinh and Ly Dynasties, but looked more stylised under the Nguyen Dynasty.

“Ho phu” was an integral part of Hue royal architecture. It symbolised aspirations for the Vietnamese feudal dynasty to last for eternity./.