Vietnam Museum of Ethnology - Insight Into 54 Ethnic Groups of Vietnam

Duc - October 28, 2018

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is definitely your cup of tea, if you are those who those who are keen to learn about the multicultural features of Vietnam and those who appreciate an environmentally-friendly space.

Being regarded as a center for ethnographic research, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi offers an insight into the 54 different ethnic groups throughout Vietnam, the S-shaped country.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology Introduction

When was the construction project of Museum of Ethnology carried out?

Vietnam is known as a multi-ethnic country with the harmonious combination of 54 ethnic groups.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Fifty four ethic groups of Vietnam

In a tremendous effort to preserve to preserve cultural heritage and promote socio-cultural diversity within the country, the Vietnamese Government decided to establish an ethnographic museum in Hanoi.

The proposal for the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology was officially approved on 14 December 1987.

Thanks to the first investment from the government in 1986, the construction of the foundation began in late 1989.

What has the achievement of the museum?

The Museum ranked in the sixth position in a list of 25 most fascinating museums in Asia according to TripAdvisor.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology received 500 excellent ratings, 375 good ratings (4.5 stars).

TripAdvisor also ranked the Museum in the fourth position in a list of 95 Hanoi attractions.

What is the essential role of Vietnam Museum of Ethnology?

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is a convergence of cultures and a scientific ethnological center.

Being a member of the National Centre for Social Sciences and Humanities, the museum participate in various undertakings.

  • Implement scientific research on Vietnamese nationalities, collection, classification, assessment, preservation, restoration and so on.
  • Exploit the cultural and historical patrimony of all Vietnamese ethnic communities.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Technical lab in the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The museum boasts more than 15.000 artefacts

Approximately 40.000 photographs and many audio-visual tapes

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Vietnamese boat

Many collections of highly cultural value are exhibited and preserved by the museum.

What is the architecture of the museum like?

The exhibition building was designed based on the idea of the architect Ha Duc Linh, a Tay minority, in the shape of a Đong Son drum.

Dong Son drum, also called Heger Type I drum- A bronze drum fabricated by the Dong Son culture in the Red River Delta of northern Vietnam.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Dong Son Bronze Drum

The French architect Véronique Dollfus continued to design the interior architecture.

  • The museum is divided into two main parts: an indoor exhibition and an outdoor one.

The indoor part:

It includes the exhibition building, office, research center, library, storage, technical lab and auditorium.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

A corner of indoor exhibition in Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Hundreds of common objects using in daily activities were displayed.

Goods made from various types of fabric by different ethnic groups such as skirts, scarves and clothes were decorated with various traditional techniques.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Ethnic clothes were decorated with various traditional techniques

Other manmade products include baskets, trays, musical instruments made from bamboo, calabashes, ritual artifacts, and so on.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Special jewelries on clothes of ethic communities

Along with the traditional objects, tourists can discover documents and photographs reflecting all aspects of tangible as well as intangible culture in daily life and the creativity of minorities.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Local legend fish-trap bike

The Second floor

The showpieces are displayed depending on geographical locations and languages, into nine groups with a close link with each other.

Temporary exhibitions are always renewed according to the exhibition’s topics.

“Life in Hanoi during the subsiding period (1975-1986)” in 2006

The exhibition of students’ life away from home in big cities in 2013

The series of photos of life of Tay Nguyen ethnics in the 1950s in 2014 and 2015.

The outdoor exhibition

It was accomplished in the first year of 21st century.

Most of space of the 2-storey is reserved for long-term and regular display of objects and documents about the cultural characteristics and the outlook of Vietnamese communities.

  • Outdoor section – The Garden of Architecture

The outdoor area of the museum attracts tourists to a host of houses modeling after the traditional architecture of ethnic minorities, especially those who live in Northern and Central highlands.

Visitors can learn more about the diversity of perspectives traditions and living styles of various ethnics.

  • Giarai Arap group

Giarai Arap community inhabited in Giarai, Kon Tum (mainly) and the north of Daklak province.

As Giarai people hold the deceased in high esteem, the Giarai has the tradition of building large tombs to worship the passed away.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Giarai tombs to worship the passed away

The most prominent decorations on the Giarai tombs are 27 carvings made from wooden tree trunks using adzes, cutlasses and knives.

Carvings of sexually- explicit men and women and expectant mothers symbolize fertility and birth.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Carvings of sexually - explicit men and women

Other carvings are of seated children (often placed on the forth corners), animals, people-the “servants” of the dead in the afterlife.

Giarai toms are the biggest ones compared to other ethnic groups with the size of 45 square meters.

These toms are considered as a symbol of exemplary architecture of the group.

  • Cham House

House is the most tangible cultural heritages of the Cham with different physical characteristics:

The Cham built houses on ground and arranged them in ordered rows.

Doors open to the south-west or between.

Walls made of bricks and mixture of lime and shells, covered with tiles or thatches. (Similar to the architecture of Viet houses)

Rooms are arranged in a particular order: Sitting room, Room for parents, Children and married woman, Kitchen, Warehouse, Nuptial room for the youngest daughter.

This arrangement reflects the break-up of the matrilineal extended family system.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Cham House- the most tangible cultural heritages of the Cham

Certain rituals must be performed before the building of the house to pray for the Land God and ask for his permission to cut down trees in the forest.

  • Viet House

The North and Middle of Vietnam are frequently hit by storms and hurricanes, local residents content themselves with one storey houses.

Middle bay in main house is the altar of ancestors.

Two lateral bays are the place for visitors and the rest for family members.

Vietnamese yards are built by traditional bamboo and wood structures.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Viet one-storey house

In the 20th centuries, 5 bays were joined on the main house to serve initially as a rice loft, and later as where tuition was given.

  • Ede Long House

The long house (nha dai) in Buon Don District, Dak Lak, belonging to the Ede ethnic group, is the longest house in the Central Highlands with 85m long and 6m wide.

“Nha dai” serves as a community hall for public meetings and communal activities of the Ede.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

“Nha dai” of the museum built in 2002 with a thatched roof and more than 1000 three-meter planks

Ede long houses are not only a maternal embodiment of the matriarchy but also a place in which cultural and spiritual value of the Ede and the Central Highlands is preserved.

In the early years of 20th century, the powerful commune became the heart of the vast Central Highlands. These houses are long enough for dozens of members to live in.

The long houses are always divided into three parts:

Two verandas attached to each house

+ Front (dring gah): Very large, used to sundry the family’s harvest, prepare for meals in the morning and rest in the afternoon.

+ Back (dring ok): Smaller, to provide space for bathroom and kitchen.

Visitor’s corner (gah):

+ Occupy from one-third to half of the total space

+ The place to welcome visitors and for the common activities of the large family

+ Visitors can observe priceless and holy objects like drums, gongs and antlers.

Next to gah is bedrooms (ok) for branch families along the aisle leading to the back veranda.

  • Bana Communal House- The most important building of Bana village

Communal houses serves as meeting halls for male, rituals, celebrations, preparation for war.

This house was built after the model of the 20th century communal house of Kon Rbang which maintains the traditional system of the building with poles and beams.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The form, size and structure of the museum’s communal house replicate those found in the village now

The wood, bamboo, rattan and straw were brought from the Central Highlands.

With the aid of 29 Bahnar people, the house in the museum was fully completed on June 4, 2003.

  • Thủy Đình House

The folk tradition is also shown through the art of water puppet in Thủy Đình House.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Thủy Đình House at Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

As a traditional art form, the story about rural life is told through the combination of wooden puppet and traditional musical playing on water.

  • Southeast Asia section- "Cánh Diều" (the Kite) building

In 2007, a 4-storey building named "Cánh Diều" (the Kite) built the third exhibition booths of the museum with the area of 500ha

The objectives is to introduce foreign cultures, mainly the cultures of nations in the Southeast Asia.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

The First Southeast Asia Museum

  • Visual Performance is pregnant with Southeast Asia Culture

The Java play of mask and dance

The Java people in Indonesia has the tradition of dancing play since the 15th centuries.

Actors wear masks and are guided the story teller script, with the assist of Gamelan (A traditional musical instrument).

Indonesia Shadow Puppet

The art of shadow puppet (wayang kulit) is originated from India.

Actors perform the play of delicate puppet on a white background.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Indonesia Shadow Puppet

Myanmar String Puppet (yoke thay thabin)

This art was born since the 15th centuries and it reached the peak of its popularity in the 19th centuries in Myanmar.

The play is based on the familiar folk of Budda, the myth of the birth of the world and historical tales.

A performance of Myanmar String Puppet

In the play, the evil puppets walk from the left, princess, prince and king puppets walk from the right; and the magical puppets fly downward from the sky.

  • Location: Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Quan Hoa, Cau Giay, Ha Noi
  • Opening hours: Daily except Monday and Lunar New Year Eve. Open at 08:00a.m; Close at 5:30p.m
  • Entrance fee: Adult: 40.000 VND/each ( ≈1.8 USD); Students, the elderly and the disabled: 15,000 VND (ID, students card required); Children under the age of 15: Free