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Vietnamese culture popularised in the US (July 07, 2004)

'Buffalo Slaughter', one of painting by Henri Oger.
Five hundred woodcuts of the French orientalist in early 20th century Henri Oger and many objects from Vietnam collected by Dr. Nguyen Manh Hung on display at the Fullerton University, California, the US have impressed the visitors a lot.

In 1907 as a 20-year-old French expeditionary soldier in Vietnam, orientalist Henri Oger ordered Vietnamese painters to make 4,577 paintings featuring the material and spiritual life of the people in the northern delta.

About one century later, Dr. of History Nguyen Manh Hung, who is now rector of the Hong Bang Independence University, brought 500 woodcuts in the collection to the US for exhibition at the Fullerton University, California from April 5-16, 2004.

These paintings feature the daily life, cultural customs and handicrafts of the northern delta locals in early 20th century.

Prof. Academician Tran Van Can, who was former head of the Vietnam Graphic Artists’ Association said “These folk paintings have a high artistic value. Ancient artisans made these lively paintings with great skill.”

Translation from Nom (Chinese transcribed Vietnamese) helped visitors further understand about the Vietnamese people in the last century.

Apart from paintings, Dr. Hung also brought along other objects such as baskets, earthen pots, farmers’ pipes, Vietnamese traditional long dress (ao dai) and the southern people’s loose-fitting blouse (ao ba ba) and had talks with the US students to introduce an overview on Vietnamese culture.

In California, the older people at the exhibition were very moved when they could touch familiar objects of their homeland while young people who grow up in the US are excited as they discovered an age-old Vietnamese culture.

Dr. Hung said that the exhibition brought about a new feeling on Vietnam 100 years ago. The US paid special attention and spent time studying Vietnamese culture as before, they just knew about Vietnam during the wartime, but not a Vietnam with a long traditional culture.

From the success in the US, Dr. Hung has received invitations from France and Belgium for such exhibitions. It was so praise-worthy as all expenses for the exhibition are paid for by Dr. Nguyen Manh Hung, who has a great heart for the popularisation of Vietnamese culture.

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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