The beautiful cultural legacy of Vietnam's fading ethnic minority groups

By VnExpress   September 7, 2016 | 08:32 pm PT
The beautiful cultural legacy of Vietnam's fading ethnic minority groups
Photo by Réhahn
A French photographer has captured these images for 'The Precious Heritage Collection'.

Vietnam has 54 ethnic groups and Réhahn, a Hoi An-based photographer, has spent the last 10 years traveling and taking pictures of them to preserve the beauty of each tribe.

He has compiled this decade-long mission in a stunning photo project called “The Precious Heritage Collection by Réhahn”.

“People seem to be unaware of how fast the numbers of the ethnic groups are dwindling around them,” Réhahn’s team wrote in a statement. “It’s as if a part of cultural history is going to sleep forever and no one seems to be doing anything to wake it up.”


Ba-Na (or Bhanar) girls. The Ba Na ethnic minority is one of three large indigenous groups in the Central Highlands.


A Ba-Na baby. They have a recorded population of 227,716 people.


A Black Dao woman in Dien Bien Province. The Dao are the fifth largest ethnic group in Vietnam, with two main subdivisions of Black Dao and Red Dao.


Two Red Dao boys.


A Red Dao woman in her traditional costume.


 A little representative of the Black Lo Lo tribe.


A closer look at the colorful traditional clothes of the Black Lo Lo people.


A Co Tu lady. They live mostly in the Central region of Vietnam and in Laos.


The Co Tu in Vietnam are known as the “People of the Forest” for their strong affinity with nature.


Two Ma girls. Among the various ethnic groups living in the Central Highlands, the Ma are considered indigenous, with an ancient history of a so-called “Ma kingdom”, though this hypothesis has triggered debates among researchers.


The beauty of a Ha Nhi woman


A Ha Nhi kid in Sapa, a mountainous town in northern Vietnam.


Ha Nhi ethnic people in Bat Xat District, Lao Cai, are also famous for their unique houses made from clay.


A young Hmong girl in Sapa.


A young Phu La girl. Most Phu La live in Lao Cai Province in the northeast of Vietnam.


A Tay girl. There are about 1.7 million Tay people living in Vietnam, making them the second largest ethnic group in the country after the majority Kinh (Viet) ethnic group.


A Xa Pho kid. 


A girl from the Xo Dang or Xe Dang ethnic group.


A H're woman. Most H're live in the provinces of Quang Ngai and Binh Dinh along Vietnam's south-central coast, and were numbered at approximately 113,111 in 1999.


A Cham girl.

Réhahn has met nearly 40 Vietnamese ethnic groups in the past five years alone.

On his path, he has also encountered sad stories of vanishing tribes in the far-flung areas of Vietnam. In May 2016, Réhahn had the chance to meet the Brau ethnic group in Kon Tum Province, only to find out that there are only 397 Brau left in the country and not one person living in the village is able to make the traditional costumes anymore.

"Réhahn believes that perhaps one of the reasons why there is little care of cultures disappearing in some regions is because that culture isn’t valued outside the community," "The Precious Heritage Collection by Réhahn" wrote. "His hope is to be the voice and mirror of the Vietnamese people – this way when their culture is reflected back at them through someone else’s eyes, they will see how important it is."


Réhahn and a Co Tu ethnic minority woman.

Réhahn is still planning to meet all 54 ethnic groups personally to document the beauty of their unique cultural legacy.

Photos by Réhahn

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