Tet in Old Saigon

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Ho Chi Minh City, also known by its old name Saigon, is welcoming another Lunar New Year. But what did Tet, Vietnam's biggest festival, look like early last century?

A Chinese dragon dance on Charner Street, which is now Nguyen Hue Street in District 1, with more than 25 performers. According to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper, the photo was possibly taken some year before 1905 as the street was not yet covered with asphalt. PHOTO COURTESY OF TUOI TRE
A human chessboard for the traditional Vietnamese folks game held during Tet using people instead of Chinese chess pieces. The picture was taken in 1918 during a game hosted by French colonials at Cercle Sportif Saigonnais, which is now Tao Dan Park in District 1. 

People parade down Charner Street during the Tet holidays. The photo was taken in 1902.

Firecrackers set off at a pagoda in Chinatown, commonly known as Cho Lon (big market) during Tet in 1905. Vietnam banned the production, trade and use of firecrackers 19 years ago on safety concerns.   

A Vietnamese official and his wife pose for a photo for their Tet celebration. They wear ao dai, Vietnam’s traditional tunic, and patterned fabric shoes. The husband also wears khan dong -- like a turban -- on his head. The postmark on the photo shows the date of 1901.

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