HA NOI — Architect Doan Bac will exhibit a collection of black-and- white photos in celebration of Ha Noi’s millennium to give Hanoians and visitors a glimpse of the city in the 1800s.
Bac has spent many years collecting the photos from a variety of sources and categorising them in chronological order. “Collecting the photos take a lot of time and effort,” he said.
His father, a retired history teacher, has helped him with his work. Bac’s father was born in Ha Noi, where he has spent his entire life in a small alley of Lo Duc Street. With his deep knowledge of Ha Noi, looking at the old photos always brings back a lot of interesting memories.
“In the old days, the sounds of Ha Noi included bells chiming as the tram went by and food vendors hawking on the streets at night,” he said.
The lifestyle in Ha Noi is much different now. He remembers when street vendors sold pho in narrow bowls from two wooden-barrels.
“Women wore long dresses and puffed up their hair. Hanoians were simple but elegant,” he said.
All of my 1,820 black & white photos have been digitally restored to the best quality, said Bac.
He is surprised at the huge number of photos he has collected from enthusiastic Ha Noi lovers. For example, he met Pierre Sadoul, the grandson of Louis Sadoul, a French military doctor. Doctor Sadoul came to Viet Nam in 1889, 1890 and 1903, and took photos of the city during each visit.
Pierre Sadoul and his wife presented Bac with 40 photos taken by the doctor featuring Thang Long Citadel, a UNESCO world cultural heritage. These photos give viewers a panoramic view of the citadel before it was destroyed, said Bac’s father.
Another rare photo taken by Dr Sadoul is an image of the Statue of Liberty on top of Turtle Tower in Sword Lake [taken in 1890 according to Louis Sadoul’s diary]. Ha Noi was home to a copy of the statue from 1887 to 1945. Measuring 2.85m tall, the statue was erected by the French colonial government after being sent from France for an exhibition.
The collection will be displayed on October 7 at the Ha Noi Library. Pierre Sadoul is scheduled to attend the event. With the theme Ky Uc Ha Noi Xua (Memory of Old Ha Noi), the display will be divided into five parts featuring Ha Noi from 1831 to 1954. After the display, Bac and his father plan to donate the collection to the Ha Noi Library and the Ha Noi Museum. — VNS