Last update 1/29/2012 8:00:00 AM (GMT+7)

Distress cry for help from Sapa ancient rock field
VietNamNet Bridge – The Sapa ancient rock field in Muong Hoa Valley, Sapa district in Lao Cai province is a mysterious and invaluable relic, which is proposed for UNESCO’s recognition as a world cultural heritage site. But this relic is being ruined.

This area of remains consists of large multi-grade rocks engraved with ancient images. It was discovered by a Russian French archaeologist of the French School of the Far East in 1925.

There are nearly 200 rocks of various dimensions concentrated in the area. Hon Bo, which is 15m long and 6m high, is the biggest of theses rocks. The engravings on the surfaces of the stone are either pictographic or decorative. Remarkably, among the engravings are drawings of humans, stilt-houses of the ethnic minorities and symbols believed to be a primitive form of writing. But their meaning has not yet been deciphered.

In addition, impressive images include a da chong (the husband stone), da vo (the wife stone), as well as stones that look like tigers and a stela with an incantation written on it by the carver to help his people defeat the tigers. The da chong and da vo tell the story of faithful love between a couple who overcame all difficulties to be together; even though they turned to stone, they are still dedicated to each other.

Archaeologists have proven that this area has been inhabited since ancient times. These fascinating Viet remains have drawn the attention of scientists and tourists.

The site was recognized as a national cultural relic in 1994. Vietnam has also proposed UNESCO to consider the ancient rock field as a world cultural heritage.

However, this ancient rock field is disappearing because of human impacts. Though some big rocks are protected by fences, invaluable patterns on them are fading because of footsteps of local kids and tourists. Kids and tourists also draw on these rocks. Meanwhile, local residents broke down reinforced cement pillars around rocks to collect iron core.

The site welcomes hundreds of visitors a day but the local authorities have not taken any measures to protect the relic.

“I have heard a lot of the Sapa ancient rock field, particularly strange patterns and characters on rocks of thousands of years old. But I am very disappointed with the way the local government manages and preserve this site. Rocks have been eroded by weather but the way that uncultured people treat the rocks is killing the relic,” said Nguyen Van Anh, a tourist from Hanoi.

Le Duc Luan, Chair of Sapa district, said that the district is about to implement a project to repair the road to the rock field, to build fences around rocks and to set up a patrol team.

The ruined Sapa rock field in Dan Tri’s photos: