Saigoneer

BackHeritage » Vietnam » [Photos] Craftmanship in 1930 Vietnam as Seen in Paris' Specialized Municipal Libraries

In this photo series, the camera's lens focuses on Vietnamese artisans in 1930, zooming on the intricate details of wood carvings and patterns from pagodas across the country, with a generous dose of orientalism.

According to the online portal for several specialized municipal libraries in Paris, where these photographs were retrieved, these photographs were taken under the commission of the Service photocinématographique.

Alison J. Murray Levine noted in her book Framing the Nation: Documentary Film in Interwar France, the Service photocinématographique in Indochine was established after World War II as a bureau for the colonial government’s public relations. This establishment was part of France’s "film mission" in Indochina, characterized by an emphasis on films as a means to popularize Indochina in France and inform the colonial subjects about their "mother country," wrote Nick Deocampo in Early Cinema in Asia. Thus, the French government invested in camera equipment and documentaries that enabled them to advertised images of Vietnam for propaganda and publicity.

The images below, which centers around craftmanship and architecture in three regions, were taken after the Service photocinématographique has outsourced their tasks to a private company called Société Indochine-Films.

Take a look below:

Offerings ceremony in front of the Quoc Hoc Memorial Stele in Hue.

Minh Huong Pagoda in Can Tho.

Thien Mu's Pagoda in Hue.

Huyen Khong Cave in Da Nang.

Phu Vinh's bamboo craft village in Ha Dong, which is now merged into modern-day Hanoi.

Lacemakers in Tay Mo, Ha Dong back then.

Ha Dong.

Ha Dong.

Pagoda worshiping Hoang Cao Khai, the pro-colonial viceroy of Tonkin in Ha Dong.

Ha Dong.

Embroidery in Ha Dong.

Sculpting Buddha in Yen So, Ha Dong.

Sculpting Buddha in Yen So, Ha Dong.

Tay Mo, Ha Dong.

Hanoi.

Hanoi.

Hanoi.

Main gate to the Forbidden Purple City in Hue.

King's bed in the Can Chanh Palace in Hue.

Lai Thieu.

Wood carving in Nam Dinh.

Thanh Quan Temple in Vinh, Nghe An.

Wooden goods merchants in Vinh, Nghe An.

Weaving hats in Phuong Trung, Ha Dong.

Thu Dau Mot.

[Photos via Flickr user manhhai

Related Articles

in Vietnam

[Illustrations] Everyday Life in 1923 Northern Vietnam Through 10 Rare Sketches

It was a simpler time in Vietnam 100 years ago — just people going about their life without a single phone in sight.

in Vietnam

[Photos] Inside the Back-Breaking Mining Operations of Bac Kan Under French Rule

Bac Kan Province in northern Vietnam is the country’s least-populous locality, with just over 300,000 people, but it has an abundance of metal veins, the mining of which dominates the local economy.

in Vietnam

[Photos] Making Sugar at an Early 20th-Century Boiling House in Quang Ngai

Unlike cash crops such as rubber or coffee that were brought in from other parts of the world, sugarcane was among Vietnam’s original native trees, and locals have been growing the sweet plant for cen...

in Vietnam

[Photos] Rare Photos of Hue From a Vintage French Publication in 1919

Hue is a city of empires, dynasties, armies, conquest and rule.

in Vietnam

[Photos] What Vintage School Assignments Can Teach Us About 1933 Vietnam

Cultural artifacts like artwork can reveal fascinating insights into our ancestors’ past life, though the pieces below are far from the kind of artistic creations that get featured in museums.

in Vietnam

10 Sketches of Indochina From the 19th Century

Though already in existence, cameras were not the main tool used by the French to make visual records of their holdings in Indochina during the 19th century. In their infancy during this time, th...