This story dates back to the time of the Ming dynasty. Chinese domination weighed heavily on Vietnam. Overburdened with taxes, the population hated the occupying forces. In Thanh Hoa province, Lam Son district, freedom-thirsty patriots rose up. But the forces were far unequal and they suffered defeat. It was then that Long Quan, the Emperor of Water decided to intervene.

At the time there lived in Thanh Hoa a fisherman called Le Than. One night as he lifted his net, he found that it was much heavier than usual. ‘A big fish,’ he thought and was very pleased. But it was only an iron bar which he threw back into the water. A little farther, as he lifted again his net, he found again the iron bar. And thus, three times in succession. Surprised, he had a closer look at the strange thing.

“Oh, dear! It’s a sword!”, he exclaimed.
Sometime later he rejoined the Lam Son volunteers.

One day, the Commander-in-chief Le Loi and some privates called on Than. The hut was dark even in broad daylight, but in a corner shone the sword.

Astonished, Le Loi took up the sword and studied it. These words were engraved on the metal: “By the will of Heaven!” However, none paid great attention to it.

Sometime later, Le Loi and his lieutenants had to retreat. As he crossed a forest he saw a strange light on top of a banyan tree. Climbing up the tree he found that it came from a sword hilt inlaid with jade. It was then that he remembered the sword he had seen at Than’s house.

The next day, meeting up with the young fisherman again, he informed the latter of his discovery. Miracle! The hilt fits the sword perfectly.
“My prince, it’s Heaven who sent it to you!”

Than exclaimed. “We pledge to follow you and sacrifice our lives for the independence of the Homeland!”
Since then, the sacred sword in Le Loi’s hands increased tenfold the troops’ ardor and worked wonders. Soon the whole country was liberated.

Le Loi gave back sword to the gold tortoise

Le Loi gave backsword to the gold tortoise

One year after the Ming had been driven out, Le Loi who had become King, went boating on the Ta Vong Lake, in the heart of the capital. Suddenly the royal boat saw a gold tortoise go up from the water.

“Please,” it said, “be so kind as to return to my master Long Quan, The Emperor of the Kingdom of Waters, the sacred sword that he has entrusted you.”

Standing in the boat, Le Loi felt that the sword he always wore at his belt was quivering. He seized it and threw it into the water. The gold tortoise swallowed it and dived off. For a long time, a blinking flash cut across the surface of the lake.

It was since that day that the Ta Vong Lake has been called “Sword Lake” or more exactly “Lake of the Restored Sword”.

Legends relating to miraculous swords exist among many Southeast Asian peoples. One can cite those of the Cham and some ethnic groups in the Central High Lands of Vietnam (Gia Rai, Ba Na, Mnong…).

The sword may either fall from the sky Into water where one must dive to get it back, or it may be hung from a tree, or be forged out of miraculous stones.

In Hanoi, in Ngoc Son pagoda on small Island in the Lake of the Restored Sword, is displayed the body of a tortoise caught in the lake In 1963 at the time of the “US escalation”. It is 2.10m long, 1.20m wide, and weighs 250 kilos. According to some biologists it was 500 years old. Strange coincidence, it was in the 15th century that Le Loi, the hero of the legend, reigned.’