05/11/2017 22:26 GMT+7 Email Print Like 0

Portraits of Vietnamese Ethnic Minorities through Rehahn’s Lens

Ten years ago, Rehahn Croquevielle chose Vietnam as the place to create his ambitious photo project "The Invaluable Heritage". The purpose of this project was to create a series of portraits of the 54 ethnic minorities in Vietnam. His photo exhibition was held in the Vietnamese Ethnographic Museum in Hanoi.
Rehahn was born in 1979 in Normandy, France. He is one of the most famous photographers in the world in recent years and he regularly appears on television programs such as National Geographic, the BBC and Travel Live. Throughout his creative career, he has travelled to 35 countries and chose Vietnam as his second home, where he has lived and worked for almost 10 years.

In 2008, Rehahn went to Sapa to do a series of photographs of the local landscape. After this trip, he took thousands of photographs of ethnic minorities in the northwestern region of Vietnam. People's faces and images of unique traditional clothes left the photographer feeling curious. He returned to Vietnam to do a photo project about the representatives of the ethnic minorities of Vietnam, which will be seen by future generations. Rehahn considered this a thank to the kind people with whom he met and photographed everywhere on Vietnamese soil.

Photographer Rehahn presents his works to visitors of the exhibition "Invaluable Heritage". Photo: Ha My

Dr. Quang Trong - Director of the Vietnamese Ethnographic Museum gives flowers to photographer
Rehahn at the official opening ceremony of the photo exhibition entitled "The Invaluable Heritage". Photo: Ha My
Photographer Rehahn talks with ethnic minorities at the photo exhibition entitled "The Invaluable Heritage". Photo: Ha My

A large number of tourists visit the photo exhibition entitled "Invaluable Heritage". Photo: Ha My

Rehahn and some ethnic women pose for a photo at the exhibition entitled "Invaluable Heritage",
organised in the Vietnam Ethnographic Museum. Photo: Ha My

For a decade, the French photographer made portraits of representatives of 45 out of the 54 Vietnamese ethnic minorities. Most recently, he held a photo exhibition "The Invaluable Heritage" at the Ethnographic Museum in Vietnam, where he presented his new discoveries about the representatives of ethnic minorities of Vietnam and about the style of their life. The exhibition lasted until the first days of October 2017.

January 2014: The first photo album with the theme "Vietnam: a mosaic of contrasts" was published.
October 2015: The last copy of the photo "Best Friends" (size: 1 x 1.5 m) was sold to a collector from Amsterdam for $ 17,000 and became the most expensive photo in Vietnam (Forbes Vietnam).
March 2016: Photo "Hidden smile" was officially transferred to the collection of the Vietnamese Women's Museum in Hanoi. This event took place with the participation of 78-year-old Song - a character on the photo.

January 1, 2017: Official Opening Ceremony of the Museum of Art Photography "Invaluable Heritage" in Hoi An.
September 2017: Opening ceremony of the photo exhibition "The Invaluable Heritage" at the Vietnam Ethnographic Museum.

When looking at the 35 photos of Rehahn, visitors get the impression that they are directly communicating with Vietnamese ethnic people. Visitors can also admire the unique traditional costumes. These photos not only contributed to the expansion of information about the rich, diverse culture of Vietnam, but also became a message that all people are interested in preserving the specific features of the culture of Vietnamese ethnic minorities.

Rehahn said that after his first trip to the highlands of North Vietnam, he saw an intertwining of the complexity, diversity and fragility of the cultural heritage of Vietnamese ethnic minorities. He was frightened by the fact that the typical cultural characteristics of small nationalities are getting lost with the passage of time. He then fully concentrated his efforts on the speedy completion of the "Invaluable Heritage" project. He thought that the most effective way to protect the culture of ethnic minorities is to let people know about this culture outside the community and respect the values of this culture. This brings people pride in their heritage and the ancient traditions of their people.

It is difficult to enumerate all the steps that Rehahn took to visit more than 100 distant Vietnamese villages and make photo reports about ethnic minorities. He is still taking pictures and will continue his to meet with ethnic groups with the aim of completing his "Invaluable Heritage" collection. 

A little girl of the Mnong with her friend in the village. Photo: Rehan

A woman braids her hair - a typical picture of the Hmong people. Photo: Rehan

The portrait of a Bo Y woman. Photo: Rehahn
A little girl of the Bahnar. Photo: Rehahn
A Hre woman. Photo: Rehahn
The Lo Lo ethnic people's traditional costume. Photo: Rehahn
Costume of the Dao. Photo: Rehahn
The portrait of a Xtieng woman. PhotoRehahn

A Lo Lo girl. Photo: Rehahn
Story: Bich Van - Photos: Ha My & Rehahn