Hmong traveling exhibit celebrates 40 years after Laos

“Hmong traveling exhibit celebrates 40 years after Laos”

by Stephen Magagnini via “The Sacramento Bee

From left, Houa Yang,Ker Cha and Brandon Xiong look at historical photographs of the CIA’s secret war in Southeast Asia during a preview Sunday of the “Hmong Story 40” project at Will C. Wood Middle School in Sacramento.

Forty years after Laos fell to the communists, decimating the Hmong people and their culture, a new generation of Hmong American leaders has emerged to preserve their heritage before it’s too late.

About 300 Hmong came to Will C. Wood Middle School in south Sacramento on Sunday to preview four new exhibits of photos and artifacts chronicling their recent history: “Hmong in Laos”; “The CIA’s Secret War against the Communists”; “Refugee Camp Life”; and “New Life in California.”

The displays were created by a group of 30 Hmong young professionals, business owners, educators and community leaders throughout California developing a traveling exhibit, the “Hmongstory40” project. They are urging families in Northern and Central California to “be a part of history” by sharing photos, artifacts and memories of their families’ journeys from Laos to Thai refugee camps and on to America.

Wood Assistant Principal See Lor, 42, who was born in Laos, taught for 10 years at Elder Creek Elementary. “Adults would ask the kids, ‘What is Hmong?’ and young Hmong kids had no clue,” she said. “They don’t know why they’re in this country. They don’t know that we’re political refugees forced to come here, not because (we) were dreaming big about America.”

Lor, clad in traditional Hmong silver and embroidery, said the children’s lack of knowledge about their culture and history “touched my heart and I knew I need to help preserve the history and the culture.”

Hmong history dates back more than 3,000 years. The Hmong once had their own kingdom in China, but they were crushed by the Chinese emperors and driven into the mountains of northern Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

According to the exhibit, “From developing a written language, to advancements in textiles, farming and fashion … the Hmong identity was strengthened, an identity that would be resilient and spirited enough to survive a secret war and eventual exile.”

At age 5, Lor fled with her family to Ban Vinai, the largest of the Thai refugee camps, where more than 40,000 Hmong awaited sponsorships to the United States. Lor, who came with her family to the United States and entered fourth grade in 1986, said she has no idea where she was born. “When I asked my mom, she said, ‘Joking Mountain.’”

Over the past 40 years, an estimated 250,000 Hmong refugees have resettled in the United States. “There are about 30,000 Hmong now in Sacramento and 32,000 in Fresno,” said Lar Yang, one of the exhibit organizers. He said he expects more than 100,000 people will view the traveling exhibit.

Hmong throughout California – inbcluding those in Sacramento Sunday — are being asked to contribute stories and memorabilia to the history project. The full exhibit is scheduled to go on display in Fresno during the Hmong New Year in December, in Merced in May 2016 and in Sacramento in the fall of 2016. Details are at

“Thanks for coming today and caring about your history,” project director Lar Yang told the audience Sunday. “Now is the time to write the truth about our history before our elders are gone. . . . .”


Royal rickshaw comes home, to be displayed in central Vietnam

“Royal rickshaw comes home, to be displayed in central Vietnam”

via “Tuoi Tre News”

A rickshaw which belonged to a king of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), Vietnam’s last monarchy, has finally arrived home after some 100 years being away and will be put on display in the central region next week as a happy ending for insiders’ unprecedentedly concerted efforts.

The rickshaw, which was gifted by King Thanh Thai (1879-1954), the 10th king of the Nguyen Dynasty, to his mother during his lifetime, is considered a royal treasure which is highly cherished for its technical, aesthetic, cultural, and historical value.

The prized item was custom-made from “trac” wood encrusted with conch and boasts sophisticated carvings.

The rickshaw will be displayed at an exhibition, which is poised to run on Wednesday at Dien Tho Palace, part of the UNESCO-recognized Complex of Monuments in Hue City.

The palace is a prominent highlight in Hue, the capital city of the central province of Thua Thien-Hue.

The homecoming is the fruit of Vietnamese culture authorities’ campaign, with the leader of a Paris-based museum giving up its legal right to purchase the object and fund-raising efforts.

At an auction in Tours, France on June 13, 2014 of various treasured items, including King Thanh Thai’s rickshaw, Vietnam’s people won the bid for the vehicle for €45,000. The item fetched €55,800 including organization fees.

In an unexpected twist, Katia Mollet, a curator of the Guimet Museum, declared that France had the right to buy the rickshaw for the same price.

State-run organizations in France were entitled by law to purchase the items at the same price as that offered by the auction winners.

The Vietnam Embassy in France and Vietnamese culture authorities persevered in talking the French museum’s leader out of the intention, and sought for support from French cultural agencies and experts on Vietnamese culture for Vietnam’s bid to purchase the rickshaw.

Some days following the auction, the Guimet Museum, which is well known for its painstaking conservation of a number of Vietnamese artifacts and has helped promote them through its exhibits, gave up its right to buy the rickshaw.

Buu Y, a respected culture researcher in Hue, was taken aback by the full-length details of King Thanh Thai’s rickshaw in a record kept by the French auction company.

According to the auctioning record, the king sold his rickshaw and bed – another royal treasure – to Prosper Jourdan, head of the king’s escort team, who took it to France in 1907.

The rickshaw has seen repairs to and restoration of some of its parts since, the record added.

Jourdan’s heirs later decided to put these two invaluable items up for auction and expressed their wish that after the auction, they will be displayed in Hue, which was Vietnam’s imperial capital during the Nguyen Dynasty. . . .


Exhibition honors Vietnamese female soldiers in Vietnam War

“Exhibition honors Vietnamese female soldiers in Vietnam War”

by Minh Hung via “Thanh Nien News”

The Southern Vietnam Women Museum has launched an exhibition of profiles and keepsakes of Vietnamese women who migrated from the north to the south in 1959 to fight for the liberation of southern Vietnam. Photos: Minh Hung
The exhibition, which opens until June 30 and for free at 202 Vo Thi Sau Street, District 3 has attracted foreign visitors on the first day (April 7). Another exhibition is being held at the same place to honor Vietnamese women’s contribution to the country’s workforce.
Water bottle and medical instrument kit that Labor Hero Do Kim Hong used when searching for the remains of her comrades who died in the Vietnam War.
A scarf that Hong used in her searches for the remains of her comrades. Besides the items, the museum also display hundreds of photos, keepsakes of Vietnamese female soldier who migrated from the north in 1959 to fight for the south’s liberation in a hope to find them or their relatives.
A foreign woman watching an item at the exhibition, placed near a statue of a mother armed with a gun while caring her two children and the slogan that reads: The enemies arriving at our home, even women will fight.
Mats displayed at the exhibition to honor Vietnamese women’s activeness at work.


“Hanoi Girl Digs Deeper into Vietnam Cultural Strata”

Very Impressive! **DB


“Hanoi Girl Digs Deeper into Vietnam Cultural Strata”


“A Hanoi girl has initiated a program to help her like-minded peers delve deeper into Vietnam’s traditional cultural art heritage and arouse their pride in it.

In June 2012, Nguyen Thu Ha, nicknamed Ha Lemy, founded a project called “Toi Xe Dich” (I move), a nonprofit project to help young people like herself explore further the country’s traditional art items and cultural relics and matters.

A graduate of Hanoi Foreign Trade University, Ha was named runner-up of the 2012 “60s chinh phuc nha dau tu” (60s Contest), a playground launched by Viet Youth Entrepreneurs (VYE) to encourage students to display their knowledge, express their opinions, and improve their English skills.

Right after the contest, she expanded her “Vietnam Travel Radio” project, which she submitted to the contest, into “,” focusing more on promoting the country’s culture and art among local youths and tourists.

“Infatuated with the country’s culture and art, I believe that ‘moving’ here isn’t limited to trips taken by many of today’s youths. Each of ‘Toi Xe Dich’ trips is a reflective journey to explore and look back on time-honored traditional values. The trips turn participants’ pride into motivation to contribute to the country later,” Ha, who now works as a marketing agent for a local company, talked about her project.

Some hundreds of local youths have joined Ha’s various activities, including “Windy Day” trips around Hanoi and to Laos, visits to Hanoi’s icons Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (the country’s first university) and historically significant Long Bien Bridge, and “Viec Lang” (Village Matters) talks discussing a wide variety of cultural matters in great depth.

With only some ten youths partaking in her first activity in the beginning, her trips now draw over 300 young cultural, art buffs each. . . . .”


A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

Old Article but Still Interesting **DB

A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

by Seth Mydans via “NY Times

A Legacy of War: Fake Art in Vietnam

“HANOI, Vietnam — Even the director of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum here doesn’t know how many of the artworks and artifacts under his care are genuine and how many are extremely skillful copies. But he says he is going to try to find out.

Many works at the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum could be copies that were made to replace the endangered originals during the Vietnam War. Now it is unclear which are real and which are fake.
Bui Thanh Phuong in his home, with works by his father, Bui Xuan Phai. He called the unmonitored art switch “a disaster.”There are nearly 20,000 of these mystery objects, on the walls and in storage, including paintings, sculpture, lacquerware, pottery, ancient statues and traditional crafts.

“We are making efforts to have a comprehensive review of items on display and in our warehouse,” said the director, Truong Quoc Binh. “After we evaluate the whole exhibit, we will try to label them all to show if they are original or not.”

Mr. Binh has been addressing questions about authenticity a lot lately. Curators and artists have been aware of the issue for years, but it became a matter of public discussion only in April, when it was raised at a conference on copyright in Danang.

In large part, the confusion is a legacy of the war with the United States, which ended in 1975, and to a lesser extent of a brief border war fought with China in 1979.

In the late 1960s, fearing that the United States would bomb Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam, museum officials removed hundreds of important artworks for safekeeping in the countryside.

To replace them on the museum walls, it commissioned copies: some by the original artists, some by the artists’ apprentices, some by skilled copyists in the museum’s restoration department. They were brilliant reproductions — or variants, as the Vietnamese called those paintings copied by the original artists.”