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17 Photos That Capture the Lives of Indochina's Ethnic Minorities in 1944

While the vast majority of Vietnamese hail from one ethnic group – the Kinh – the country is home to 54 different ethnicities, each with their own culture, traditions, language and style of dress.


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These days, most people living along the coast conform to the ways of the Kinh, but pay a visit to the interior of the country and you'll find many of these cultures alive and well in the more mountainous areas of the Central Highlands and northern Vietnam, as well as across the Mekong Delta.

The following photos, taken in 1944, depict ethnic minorities of the Central Highlands and northern Vietnam in their daily lives at the time of French colonial rule. Hunters and market-goers, spiritual leaders and musicians from various ethnic groups pose for portraits in their traditional dress, capturing a rare glimpse into some of the many cultures of the Vietnamese people.

Ethnic women in the Central Highlands wear heavy jewelry on their ears.

An E De longhouse in Buon Ma Thuot.

Ethnic E De people in Lam Dong province carry pottery on their backs.

Two H'mong men play musical instruments beside two H'mong women in Cao Bang province.

A Lo Lo girl wears heavy beads around her neck.

A young Lo Lo girl in Upper Laos.

A White H'mong couple in Sapa.

A White H'mong woman in Ha Giang province.

Two Dao women in Hoa Binh.

A young Dao girl in Ha Giang province.

Dao women in Cao Bang province wear lots of silvery jewelry.

Two Dao women (right) and one H'mong woman (left) at a market in Cao Bang province.

Two female oracles from the Dao ethnic group prepare to perform a ritual dance in Cao Bang province.

Ethnic Tho hunters in mountainous northern Vietnam.

A White Thai girl from mountainous northern Vietnam.

Two Cham women in traditional dress.

A Cham village chief in south central Vietnam.

[Photos via Kienthucienthuc]

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