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Nguyễn-Era Fighting Arena in Hue to be Restored

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VnExpress reports that the government of Hue is embarking on a US$4.2 million project to restore the city's Nguyễn Dynasty-era arena where elephants and tigers were made to fight each other for the barbaric entertainment of the elite.

The Hổ Quyền-Voi Ré complex, which includes the fighting arena and a palace, currently sits in the middle of a residential neighborhood, meaning some tombs and homes will need to be relocated to facilitate the restoration. Once the area is cleared, a process that will require half the entire budget, landscaping will be added along with parking lots to accommodate an expected increase in tourists.

City officials are currently formulating ways to attract future visitors to the renovated site, with ideas including virtual images of fights between elephants and tigers, and re-enactments of the Voi Ré Palace ritual ceremony in which Nguyễn lords worshiped elephants. This veneration of elephants extended to the arena, as tigers were rumored to be defanged before being unleashed in order to give an advantage to the elephants. 

The arena was built in 1830 under the rule of King Minh Mạng, with an elevated grandstand for the king and lower seating for various courtiers, mandarins, soldiers and nobles. The Hue Monuments Center renovated part of the arena at the end of 2018-9, including the walls, steps and the wooden pully systems that opened the tiger cages.

[Top image: left picture via VnExpress, right image: a 1904 fight between an elephant and a tiger, via Flickr user mannhai]

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