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.
When was the construction project of the Museum of Ethnology carried out?
Vietnam is known as a multi-ethnic country with a harmonious combination of 54 ethnic groups.
Fifty-four ethnic 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.
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.
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 participates in various undertakings.
Technical lab in the Museum of Ethnology Hanoi
The museum boasts more than 15.000 artifacts
Approximately 40.000 photographs and many audio-visual tapes
Many collections of high 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.
Dong Son Bronze Drum
The French architect Véronique Dollfus continued to design the interior architecture.
It includes the exhibition building, office, research center, library, storage, technical lab, and auditorium.
A corner of the 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.
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.
Special jewelry on clothes of ethnic 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.
Local legend fish-trap bike
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.
It was accomplished in the first year of the 21st century.
Most of the 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.
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 the Northern and Central Highlands.
Visitors can learn more about the diversity of perspectives traditions and living styles of various ethnics.
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.
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.
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 the exemplary architecture of the group.
House is the most tangible cultural heritage of the Cham with different physical characteristics:
The Cham built houses on the 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 women, Kitchen, Warehouse, Nuptial room for the youngest daughter.
This arrangement reflects the break-up of the matrilineal extended family system.
Cham House- the most tangible cultural heritage 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.
The North and Middle of Vietnam are frequently hit by storms and hurricanes, local residents content themselves with one story houses.
Middle bay in the 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.
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.
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.
“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 the 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.
Communal houses serve 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.
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.
The folk tradition is also shown through the art of water puppet in Thủy Đình House.
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 the water.
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 are to introduce foreign cultures, mainly the cultures of nations in Southeast Asia.
The First Southeast Asia Museum
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 storyteller 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.
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.
In the play, the evil puppets walk from the left, princess, prince and king puppets walk from the right; and the magical puppets fly down from the sky.