An exhibition of 60 photographs depicting Ha Noi in the early 20th century opened at the Paris International Student Community House in Paris, France.
Taken by Leon Busy between 1914 and 1917, the images were selected by historian Emmanuel Poisson and ethnologist Dinh Trong Hieu from an archive of more than 1,500 photos.
Busy was commissioned to take the pictures by banker and charity activist Albert Kahn, who wanted to build an archive of colour photos depicting all nations in the world.
The photo archive now forms part of the Albert Kahn Museum in Boulogne – Billancourt, France.
The exhibition, Ha Noi Sac Mau (The Colour of Ha Noi), is divided into two sections: “Normal Life – Crafts and Society” and “Environment and Beliefs”.
The photos were completed through a colour photography process known as Autochrome Lumiere, invented in 1903 by the Lumiere brothers.
Their clear colours reveal the beauty in traditional costumes, daily utensils and rural landscapes such as rice fields ready to be harvested.
“The photos are an essential source of documentation, providing clear insight into the life and tradition of Vietnamese in the previous century,” co-ordinator of the France-Viet Nam Years programme Benoit Paumier said at the opening ceremony on Monday.
“The works not only record what no longer exists in the cultural heritage system, but prove the vivid consecutiveness of nuances in Vietnamese society after a century of ups and downs.”
Michel Bock, a representative from the Ile-de-France region, said the exhibition would help make the Year of Viet Nam in France in 2014 successful and strengthen friendship and co-operation between the people of Ile-de-France and Ha Noi.
“The photos reflect the soul of Viet Nam, spreading knowledge about Vietnamese heritage and values around the world,” Bock said.