Precious color photos of Old Hanoi

The autochrome exhibition “The Colors of Hanoi” held by a French photographer Léon Busy depicts the life of Vietnamese people in general and of Hanoians in particular in the early 20th century.  The exhibition is ongoing at French Culture Center (at 24 Trang Tien Street, Hanoi) from 6 Dec 2013 to 4 Jan 2014.

A millionaire French banker, Albert Kahn (1860-1940) had great passion for culture. He used his vast fortune to send a group of intrepid photographers to more than fifty countries around the world in order to take the earliest-known color photographs on each nation’s culture all over the world.

With more than 72,000 featured photos taken in over 50 countries around the world, he is the powerful man who had the premier color photograph collection, called “The Archives of the Planet”.

A French photographer Léon Busy was in charge of capturing photos in Bac Ky (Northern Vietnam). He traveled throughout the Northern Vietnam and took about 1,700 photos during the period time of 1915-1920. Despite all photos were completed through a color photography process widely known as Autochrome Lumiere, of which the technology was still limited, the Hanoi album of this amateur photographer contained the precious and unique cultural and art values of an old Hanoi capital. The ancient values of the photos remind audiences of an old movie film.

Significantly, through the lens of a talented photograph, audiences easily imagine the spiritual and material life of Bac Ky (Northern Vietnam) people which still kept primitive and wasn’t mixture with other Occident culture. The photos have been digitized to showcase the beauty of the Vietnamese society and were divided into two topics: traditional handicrafts and activities in daily lives, along with the relationship between human beings and the natural environment, featuring worshiping and other religious rituals. Let’s see a different Hanoi in the past from 1915-1920 highlighted via the typical photos by Léon Busy.

Corner of Trang Tien Street in Hanoi Old Quarter - Hanoi travel guide tour

A corner of Trang Tien Street, in front of the Opera House

Hang Thiec Street in Hanoi Old Quarter - Hanoi City tour

Hang Thiec Street in Hanoi Old Quarter

Legendary Long Bien in Old Hanoi capital - Hanoi travel guide

The legendary Long Bien Bridge

The Commando in Bac Ky in ritual costumes - Hanoi travel guide

The Mandarins in Bac Ky (Northern Vietnam) in ritual costumes

Normal life of Bac Ky people - Hanoi travel via photos

The two men were smoking and enjoying tea cups

A Chinese girl was smoking opium in old Hanoi - Hanoi travel

A Chinese girl was smoking opium

The Tuong performers from the Southern - travel to Hanoi

The Tuong performers from the Southern

Provincial Mandarin of Bac Ky Vietnam - Hanoi travel

The Mandarin of Bac Ky Vietnam

Hanoi unique moments via photo - Hanoi travel guide

The Mandarin and the authorities were gathering at the district chiefs yamen

Two women on Ao Yem and Non Quai Thao in Old Hanoi - travel to Hanoi

Two women on Ao Yem and Non Quai Thao


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