Vietnam Museum of Ethnology Pt. 2

Last week I returned to the Museum of Ethnology for a look at the interior exhibits. One of the nice things about the museum is that it’s within easy walking distance so I take my camera along, taking photos not only at the museum, but on my way there and back.

Cement Cart in Hanoi
Cement Cart

Above is another example of how construction materials are moved in Hanoi. Frequently job-sites are down narrow lanes and the only way to move materials in or out is by handcart or, sometimes, basket. In the last couple of weeks just down my lane I’ve seen workers moving bricks and earth from a demolished house, down a very narrow lane, into my narrow lane (where a small truck can squeeze) and the material is then shoveled into the truck bed. Going the other way down my lane there’s a storage area for bags of cement and this is how they move it out. Note the bare feet and the strap over the shoulder for a little extra pull.

Taking a break in Hanoi
Rest Break

Of course after a few hours of that kind of work you need a siesta. I’ve seen people sleeping in all kinds of odd spots: on their motorbikes, in their market stalls, on chairs in stores, on top of building materials, by the side of the road….

However, here we go into the museum…

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
Vietnam Museum of Ethnology - exterior view

The museum focuses on the 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. It’s in the shape of a traditional drum with a circular exterior and an atrium in the center.

Open center of museum
Open Center Space

Unfortunately my note taking left a bit to be desired and I cannot accurately label everything I took photos of. I read the label for this tall pole structure but cannot now remember where it came from or exactly what it’s called. So… bear with me and I’ll update this page after my next visit to the museum. In the meantime you can share some of the interesting pieces I saw there (and some I do remember the names of).

water puppet
Water Puppet
water buffalo water puppet
Water Buffalo Water Puppet

The images above are of water puppets. The water buffalo is apparently considered good luck in Vietnam. The workmanship is amazing considering that they’re seen from a distance. I understand that the combination of wood and paint types make the puppets durable in their watery environment.

bikeload of baskets
Bike Load of Baskets

I’ve seen some large loads on bicycles and motorbikes in Hanoi but nothing quite like this! This bicycle was actually used between 1982 and 1997 by a man selling the various fish traps. How he ever managed to pedal the bike is mind boggling. Perhaps he just pushed it along. I was impressed by the many styles and functions of baskets I saw.

selection of baskets
Three Baskets

These three, quite large, baskets all have shoulder straps and the two on the right also have head bands. I noticed that the Mon Khemer ethnic group in Vietnam’s north are considered amongst the best basket makers in the country. Perhaps Sue and I will get to visit one of their villages when we start traveling around the countryside.

tableau in museum
A Tableau

There are many tableaus in the museum showing different activities found among the various ethnic groups. There was a video of the ceremony, placed near this tableau, which provided more context. Unfortunately I cannot report on what the ceremony was about. However, it’s a great museum and I’ll happily return with my notebook to gather more info.

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