The French photographer who loves Vietnamese culture

14:11 | 08/09/2017 Culture & Art

(VEN) - A photo exhibition themed “Precious Heritage” by French photographer Réhahn explores the fascinating diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups in the country’s remotest villages. The 35 photos are on display at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi.

the french photographer who loves vietnamese culture

The O Du, Ro Mam and Dao

Réhahn, a native of the Normandy region in France, travelled to more than 35 countries prior to making the central Vietnamese town of Hoi An his home in 2011. He is particularly known for his portraits of Vietnam, Cuba and India, and the media regularly describe him as the photographer “who captures the soul of his models”. Réhahn invests his time and builds strong relationships with the people he meets, hence his Giving Back Project.

the french photographer who loves vietnamese culture

Journeying to the northern regions of Vietnam and making his way down, he has witnessed firsthand the complexity and fragility of ethnic cultural heritage. Having met 45 of the country’s 54 ethnic groups, he captured images of these exceptionally contrasting cultures, and collected their traditional costumes and precious artifacts, he has built up the Precious Heritage Collection, which is now the core of the eponymous Gallery Museum in Hoi An.

The photos exhibited at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology include portraits of those who uphold century-old traditions that make up the rich diversity of Vietnam’s ethnic cultures.

Come and discover some of the smallest or rarely seen tribal groups. Be moved by the pride in their cultures reflected in the eyes of old O Du, Ro Mam and Dao ladies posing in their traditional costumes, and the cheeky smiles of the young generation who represent the hope for passing on the ancient tribal customs and knowledge.

Associate Prof. Dr. Vo Quang Trong, director of the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, says that with its own values, Réhahn's “Precious Heritage” photo exhibition provides an opportunity for the public to discover the unique cultures of many ethnic groups in Vietnam.

Preserving heritage

the french photographer who loves vietnamese culture

Réhahn said many ethnic groups in Vietnam live in remote areas and do not speak Vietnamese, while many other tribes no longer wear their traditional costumes and maintain all their traditional cultures.

He talked with elderly people about the fact that many young ethnic members of their minority no longer wear traditional costumes nor do they speak their first language. With his love for Vietnamese cultures, Réhahn hopes his Precious Heritage collection will protect the heritage values from oblivion and contribute to encouraging young Vietnamese to love their traditional cultures.

Réhahn believes the most effective way to preserve the cultures of ethnic groups is to make them proud of their heritage and customs, noting that sometimes, people only recognize their values through the eyes of others. Réhahn expects the gallery museum he founded earlier this year will provide visitors with knowledge about Vietnamese cultures that are otherwise largely inaccessible – both through his photographs and the stories behind them.

“Precious Heritage”, a photo exhibition at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi, welcomes visitors from August 2 to October 1, 2017.

Hoa Quynh