Rare early 20th-century document on professions in Việt Nam gifted to National Archives

June, 02/2022 - 17:17

A rare collection of 4,000 wooden block paintings, listing all the professions in Việt Nam at the beginning of the 20th century, was given to the Việt Nam National Archives Centre No. III on June 1.

HÀ NỘI  — A rare collection of 4,000 wooden block paintings, listing all the professions in Việt Nam at the beginning of the 20th century, was presented to the Việt Nam National Archives Centre III on June 1.

Completed by French Oriental culture researcher Henri Oger, the album Technique Du Peuple Annamite (Technique of the Vietnamese People) was been dubbed by the author himself as an "Encyclopedia of tools, utensils and gestures in life and works of Việt Nam’s Northern people".

Director of the Việt Nam National Archives Centre III Trần Việt Hoa (left) and former Vietnamese Ambassador to France Nguyễn Thiệp at the presenting ceremony on June 1. — Photo tienphong.vn

Together with a book about the life, art, and industry of the northerners, the album is part of his research about local life in the northern and midland regions, as well as Hà Nội, between 1908-1909.   

Both the book and the album were printed in 1910, using traditional Vietnamese methods, with wooden blocks on poonah paper. Only 200 copies of the albums were published.

Currently, there are only four copies of the album kept in different libraries in France and Việt Nam. However, they are in various states of degradation.   

A wooden block painting showing lacquerware makers, from ‘Technique of the Vietnamese People’ by Henri Oger. — Photo kythuatnguoiannam.com

The album given to the National Archives is a gift from the Vietnamese-French ethnologist Vũ Thị Xuân Phương. The former Vietnamese ambassador to France Nguyễn Thiệp, on behalf of the donor, has presented the album to the centre.   

According to the director of the Việt Nam National Archives Centre III, Trần Việt Hoa, the donation by ethnologist Xuân Phương shows her love for her home country and wish to preserve the traditional culture of the Vietnamese people living abroad.

Alongside the album, the former Vietnamese ambassador also gave the Archives Centre several audio documents on the 1973 Paris Peace Accords provided by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. — VNS

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