The Amazing Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, July 27, 2015 | Published in


After weeks of not blogging about my Hanoi trip (which was a trip I made about 2 years ago - wow! how time flies!),  I am now back with a new post!

Continuing from where I left off, which was my temple hopping activity at West Lake, I spent the remaining part of the afternoon at Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology.

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Since the museum was located quite far from West Lake, I took a taxi there. The entrance ticket was priced at 40,000 Dong (US$1.80)

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I paid an additional 50,000 Dong (US$2.30) for the license to take photos with my camera. If you are using your handphone to take pictures, you probably do not need to tell them. I don't think anyone checks!

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The museum is divided into indoor and outdoor areas. Because of lack of time, I did not cover the outdoor area, which is a pity as the outdoor exhibits are supposed to be more interesting.

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The good news is, I actually managed to return to Hanoi early this year and visited the outdoor area of the museum. So expect a blog post on that in the future. LOL.

At the ground floor lobby of the museum was a tall Ritual Pole used during Thanksgiving Festival.

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This ritual pole is for the ritual buffalo to be tied to and a "universal tree" that connects the spirit world with human beings.

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The museum covers all the main minority ethnic groups in Vietnam and signs and displays are in English. There are also a lot of audiovisual displays too.

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A big signboard welcoming visitors in different languages.

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A water puppet.

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Betel nut box and an oboe played during festivals.

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Interesting displays of money counter.

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And a ruler to measure pigs. Yes, you read that right. Pigs.

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This is an amazing sight! A bicycle loaded with more than 800 wooden and bamboo fish traps!

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Conical hat making in Chuong village.

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A display of water puppets used in water puppet shows - a performing art created during the 10th century.

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Closer shot of the water puppets.

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Ancient musical instruments.

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Religion of the Four Worlds, which is popular in northern Vietnam, where the system of spirits is imagined like an imperial court ruling the four worlds - Sky, Earth, Water and Forests.

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Closer shots of the displayed items

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Below are photos depicting a spiritual possession ceremony, where spirits are invited to possess the female performer to reveal the activities of the sacred world.

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These photos show the age-old tradition of chewing betel in Vietnam.

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OK, I don't quite remember what this is about, but I believe it's about children traditional games. I suppose the lion head shows they have lion dance during their festivals.

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Not sure what these animal masks are all about! LOL!

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And this - anyone knows?

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Boys like to play spinning tops.

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Paper toys gifts.

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The photos below depict some of the games children play. During summer and autumn, they like to fly kites. In spring, they play on swings and grasshopper and cricket competitions are organized.

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Not really sure what this is, but ....

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...these are objects to protect children, although I am not sure how.

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Ritual dolls for hat boi singers. Hat boi, by the way is a dramatic art form (popular during 14th century Tran Dynasty) combining singing, dancing and instrumental music around a play. Don't know about you, but I find them creepy.

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Dong Ho woodblock pictures. These are hand-made woodblock prints used especially for Tet, or the Vietnamese New Year.

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Wood carving and engraving are traditional handicraft in Vietnam. Some of the tools used in wood carving.

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A carving of two mice found on the bridge of Vo village in the Bac Ninh province.

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Just like the Chinese people, each Vietnamese family has an altar for their ancestors usually placed in the most beautiful part of their home.

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This is a bamboo lunar calendar. Wonder how does one read it?

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A knife with lizard carving.

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A fish basket.

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A crossbow.

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Guess what this is? It looks like a trap doesn't it? Yes, it's a porcupine trap!

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A Muong funeral. Muong is one of the ethnic minority tribes in Vietnam. I suppose the one dressed in blue is the ritual master whose job is to console the dead and guide them to their ancestors. The coffin, dug in a tree trunk, is covered in traditional fabric.

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The children of the deceased are dressed in white for mourning. However, daughters-in-law wear red dresses, which is in direct contrast to the Chinese people who will never allow that! Red, to the Chinese, are more for auspicious events.

The weaving machine used by Muong women who traditionally plant cotton, raise silkworms and weave textiles for clothing, blankets, and decorative waistbands for skirts. A weaver's skill was evaluated based mainly on those decorative waistbands!

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The Dong Van market in Ha Giang province.

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The mythical bird Garuda.

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A buffalo cart normally pulled by two buffaloes. This cart is suited to sloping and muddy terrains. It can carry as much as two tonnes of rice, maize, wood and other goods.

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Marriage baskets.

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Ritual tray and glasses (left) and ritual vase (right).

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Vinegar cooking pot (left) and teapot (right).

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A zither.

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A fish basket.

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Funerary statues.

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A tomb with funerary statues all around it. The statues of men and women showing their private parts probably symbolises fertility and birth as birth and death are related.

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Woman's costume

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Man's costume

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Water containers (two at the top), tobacco calabash (bottom left) and soup bowls (bottom middle and right).

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Alcohol calabash

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A two-stringed zither

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A monkey-shaped scarecrow

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A mask

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Gong protected by a case.

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A fish trap

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I walked out to the balcony overlooking the outdoor gardens. Then I went back in for more, but time was running out. I need to leave the museum soon, or risk being late for dinner and possibly miss my flight home.

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A few more photos I took. A Hmong minority doing the weaving.

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Not sure what this is about but the costume looks nice!

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Initiation marking the rank of ritual master, one of the most respected careers in traditional society.

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The initiate must learn Chinese and Yao characters to read ritual books, learn the various rites and observe certain taboos to avoid being 'polluted'.

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I could have taken more pictures but time was not on my side. However, if you like what you have seen so far in this post, I highly recommend a visit to this interesting Vietnam Museum Of Ethnology and spend a few hours here!

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Coming Up Next : Visiting St Joseph's Cathedral In Hanoi