Life in Vietnam

Sunday, 18/02/2018 12:15

French photographer to build Cơ Tu museum in Quảng Nam

Looms: Brocade weaving is the most traditional craft of Co Tu people. — VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Viet Nam News

HOI AN — French photographer Rehahn plans to build a Co Tu Museum offering information on the ethnic group living in the mountainous areas of Quang Nam Province in the centre of the province’s Tay Giang district.

The museum will become a display of Co Tu culture and rendezvous point for festivals among the ethnic groups living in the province, Thua Thien-Hue and Laos.

Rehahn told Viet Nam News that the museum will be built on a total of 2,000sq.m.

“Tay Giang District offered me land where I could help them to set up the museum, in co-operation with cultural researcher Tran Tan Vinh and Co Tu people. The museum will be introduced in three languages – French, English and Vietnamese,” he said.

He said the idea originated one day when he talked with a chief of the Co Tu Village in Dong Giang District in the province about preservation of Co Tu musical instruments for the next generation.

“He told me that kids often come to his house to ask questions about instruments or stories and he said, ‘When I die, who will answer them?’ And then I decided to open a museum for the preservation of their culture before it disappears completely,” Rehahn recalled.

“Co Tu culture and people gave me so much for my museum -- the Museum of Ethnology – in Hoi An city and they always welcomed me like a brother. So, I want to help them,” he said.

Party secretary of Tay Giang District, Bh’riu Liec, a Co Tu man, said the district has allocated land for the development of the museum and Rehahn has come to help construct it.

He said the district would seek objects among the Co Tu community in Quang Nam and neighbouring provinces as well as districts in Laos for display.

Liec said Co Tu people have preserved their rich culture for generations, but yet such a museum is built at the locality for regular visit and display.

As planned, the museum will be built according to the design of a Guol (traditional communal long house of Co Tu people) – displaying the most typical antiquities of the ethnic group.

The Guol also plays the role of the heart and soul of the community. It serves as a rendezvous for all the big festivals and meetings held every year.

Tay Giang District is home to the largest Co Tu community in Viet Nam. The people comprise 91 per cent of the district’s population of 17,000.

Rehahn is a photographer born in NormandyFrance. He has made Hoi An his home since 2011, where he established the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum at 26 Phan Boi Chau.

The 250sq.m space is home to more than 30 authentic traditional costumes, 200 photos, precious artifacts and stories translated in French, English and Vietnamese. It is the culmination of five years of exploration of Viet Nam’s 54 ethnic groups.
He and a group of artists and entrepreneurs are also pushing to turn the street into what he calls Rue des Arts. — VNS 
Traditional: An old Co Tu man plays a string instrument (abel). — VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Melodic: A Co Tu man plays a buffalo horn -- a musical intrument of the ethnic group. — VNS Photo Cong Thanh
Home sweet home: A Guol (traditional communal long house of the Co Tu people) is seen in Tay Giang District in Quang Nam Province. The French photographer Rehahn plans to build a Co Tu Museum in the district. — VNS Photo Cong Thanh

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