Life in Hanoi, 100 years ago

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A multimedia exhibition on the daily lives of people in northern Vietnam more than a century ago opened on September 2 in Hanoi.

The exhibition is called Mot vai net ve doi song thi dan va nong dan Bac bo dau the ky 20 qua tranh khac cua Henri Oger (Some aspects of the daily lives of citizens and farmers in the north of Vietnam in the early 20th century through woodblock paintings of French artist Henri Oger).

It includes 56 panels, 71 artifacts, four videos and a series of documents and writings on the issue.

The paintings are taken from the French researcher's famous book "Technique Du Peuple Annamite" (Mechanics and Crafts of the Annamites), which was printed on Vietnamese traditional (poonah) paper, and focuses on industrial development in northern Vietnam in the early 1900s.

From 19081909, Oger traveled extensively through northern Vietnam to research and record the events in people's daily lives (such as celebrations, street life and folk games) and produced a 700-page book, including 4,200 drawings, block prints and written documents.

His study covered a wide range of crafts and occupations, including farming, paper-making, pottery, forging, weaving and making household ornaments and lacquer products.

In September 2009, the book hit the shelves again as a result of a restoration project by local publishers and the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient. The second edition incorporates Oger's original works as well as the researcher's biography and a collection of other documents. It was published in three languages Vietnamese, English and French.

Prof. Tong Trung Tin, head of the Institute of Archaeology, said the paintings are displayed chronologically to describe crafts, customs, and traditions in the north, which had Hanoi has its center.

"These artworks are strokes of happiness," said the researcher.

The black-and-white videos screened at the exhibition were filmed by a French person and collected by Dr. Philippe Le Failler, who contributed to the 2nd edition of the book, and his friends.

The exhibition is being held at the Thang Long Vestiges Preservation Center, 9 Hoang Dieu Street. It is scheduled to run until the advent of the Lunar New Year, in February next year.

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