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[Photos] Monochrome Images Depict Craftmanship Across 1930s Vietnam

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.




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

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