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Old Quarter history on public display

Update: April, 20/2015 - 08:29
Once upon a time: A view of Hang Long Street in 1920.
HA NOI (VNS) — The formation and development of Ha Noi's Old Quarter, one of the last traditional handicraft and trading areas in Southeast Asia, is being featured at an exhibition in the capital's downtown.

Titled Ke Cho – Pho Co (City Dwellers – Old Quarter), the exhibition consists of more than 100 photos, images and explanations, maps and miniature models of houses and streets, which showcase the changes of the area since King Ly Thai To chose it to build the new capital city in 1010.

Various video clips are also being screened as part of the exhibition.

The exhibition highlights the most important periods of the city's development: the golden age of the commercial quarter during the 17th-19th century:; the French colonisation in 1884-1954; and the revival period after the doi moi (renewal) policy was applied.

Each period is illustrated with information on urban architecture, economics, lifestyles of the residents, and work being done for the Old Quarter restoration.

"I'm interested in the model of the wooden tube houses of local traders," said Robie Brown from the Netherlands.

"They were composed of several buildings separated by courtyards. I didn't know before that the house was wisely designed to be full of air and light. It served both as a home for a family and a boutique or workshop for traders or craftsmen."

Brown was also attracted by the golden age of the commercial quarter when craftsmen settled in the city.

During that period each ‘urban village' was composed of one or several rural villages. These people formed a craft guild, lived on the same street and made and sold some specific products. The names of today's streets bear this fact: Hang Bac (Silver) Street, Hang Dong (Copper) Street and Hang Bong (Cotton) Street.

Just 120 years ago: A photo of Hang Bac Street in 1896.

Sarah Wright from Germany said she was impressed by the modern concept of this exhibition.

"My children like opening closed cabinets, where they kept surprising objects popular in the past in the Old Quarter, such as a roll of colourful thread, a box for keeping betel and areca, and a hair pin. It's so informative and interesting. We regret that we don't have much time to remain longer to see the documentaries."

Pham Tuan Long, deputy head of the Old Quarter Management Board, said that beside tourists, the exhibition is also aimed at local residents to help them understand the beauty and hidden charms of the area and help them have a deeper understanding about the city.

The exhibition was developed by experts from Toulouse, in co-operation with Vietnamese and foreign individuals and organisations, scientists, historians, graphic designers, painters and photographers.

"It is one of various measures being taken at the moment to bring into full play the Old Quarter's values and to preserve it," Long added.

The exhibition is held at the Old Quarter Culture Exchange Centre, 50 Dao Duy Tu Street. — VNS



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