Uoc Nguyen Dau Xuan

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Vietnamese History: The Legend of Cổ Loa and the Magic Crossbow

An Dương Vương burnt incense, prayed, made offerings, and evoked all the gods of those days to help him. One night, in a dream, a very, very old and venerable man with long, white hair came to him and told him the only person who could help him out of this conundrum was a golden turtle that lived somewhere around Cổ Loa.

A few days later, while wandering in a boat on the river and thinking about the meaning of his dream, a gigantic golden turtle appeared suddenly at the surface of the water. The golden turtle told An Dương Vương that he would need one of its claws in order to accomplish anything in his life. Pulling out one of its claws and throwing it to An Dương Vương, the turtle vanished.

An Dương Vương had Cao Lỗ, his weaponry engineer, build a crossbow incorporating this claw. It is said a single arrow shot from this crossbow of the Kim Qui (Golden Tortoise) could kill hundreds, even thousands of enemies. Indeed right after obtaining this claw, An Dương Vương saw his fortunes change. His capital started taking shape. His kingdom prospered and soon was coveted by neighboring states. Among one of those who coveted his territory was Zhao Tuo (Triệu Đà in Vietnamese), a Qin general under the reign of Qin Shi Huang and his successor. For a period of ten years around 217 to 207 BCE, Triệu Đà attempted many invasions to conquer Âu Lạc state, but failed each time due to An Dương Vương’s military skills and defense tactics.

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