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Fashion shows to spread quintessence of Vietnamese culture and heritage



HÀ NỘI — Fashion collections inspired by the quintessence of Vietnamese culture and heritage will be presented during a show next month.

Eight Hà Nội-based designers will showcase their latest creations in this special show entitled Bước Chân Di Sản (Footsteps of the Heritage). The event is the first of HC Fashion Show – a project that will be held four times every year in different famous tourist spots across the country.

The show will take place on October 20 at the Centre of Vietnamese Craft Village in the famous ceramic Bát Tràng village in Hà Nội suburban.

The Centre of Vietnamese Craft Village in the famous ceramic Bát Tràng village will host the fashion show Bước Chân Di Sản on October 20. — Photo

The series is the brainchild of former supermodel Hạ Vy and director Hoàng Công Cường, who is the mastermind of several big events in Việt Nam including the opening ceremony of the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) 31 in Hà Nội in May.

Explaining the reason why he decided to co-operate with model Hạ Vy to organise the show, director Cường said: “Two of us share a common wish – it’s to spread the quintessence and values of Vietnamese culture to the world through fashion. After the SEA Games, I think I’ve gained more confidence to conduct this project.”

According to model Hạ Vy, she and the director have been working with each other for more than 10 years so they both know each other very well.

“Unlike all other previous shows that we have worked together, this show will be completely different as we are initiators, producers and directors. When we decided to collaborate, the commercial benefit isn’t our purpose. We just want our shows can be something that we can do for our Việt Nam,” said the former model, who currently runs a model agency in Hà Nội.

Initiators, producers and organisers of the Bước Chân Di Sản (Footsteps of the Heritage) fashion show, former supermodel Hạ Vy (centre) and director Hoàng Công Cường (right). — Photo courtesy of the organiser

Discussing the financing of the shows, the former model said both she and director Cường have accepted they will have to spend their own saving money.

“It’s will be great and highly appreciated if anyone understands the project’s meaning and purpose and wants to share the burden with us,” Vy said.

“Otherwise, we are ready to spend our own money on this enthusiastic project.”

In their first shown next month in Bát Tràng, 60 models who were selected from casting on September 20 will present collections by Hà Nội-based designers.

Founder and Creative Director of La Pham brand, designer Phạm Ngọc Anh, will showcase her collections that were presented recently in Switzerland and Greece. La Pham is known for her distinctive brocade creations that combine both modern and traditional features, especially the ones inspired by Việt Nam’s ethnic culture.

Designer Hà Duy and a model presenting a creation from his collection Sứ. — Photo courtesy of organiser

Despite designer Hà Duy having a busy schedule working on his own annual show at the beginning of November, he said he couldn’t resist joining this project as he understands the importance of spreading the quintessence of Vietnamese culture through fashion.

Duy will unveil his collection Sứ which he has been designing specially for the show.

He said: “I have named the collection Sứ because in Vietnamese, this word refers to different meanings such as porcelain or mission [sứ mệnh]. All the creations are white, presenting the signature colour of porcelain, and were made from the eco-friendly bamboo fabric.”

Áo dài (traditional dress) designer Hương Queen will introduce a collection of glamorous long-train dresses. The dresses feature sequin-embellished and rich-embroidered patterns that were inspired by the ones painted on Bát Tràng ceramic products.

A model presents an áo dài creation by designer Hương Queen. — Photo courtesy of organiser

Other designers participating in the show are Helene Hoài, Vũ Việt Hà, Kenny Thái, Seven Uomo, and Dez.

After the show in Bát Tràng, the organisers will host other shows in Tam Chúc Pagoda Complex in Hà Nam Province, the Mâm Xôi Hill in Mù Cang Chải terrace rice fields in northern mountainous Yên Bái Province, and the Hải Lý sea-swept collapsed church in Nam Định Province.

Hạ Vy said: “In the next shows, we will invite designers from other regions of the country to participate. Depending on a specific location, we will also seek the support of local artisans, who will take part in the show as models.” — VNS


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Experts propose demolishing building in Thăng Long Imperial Citadel



Experts stand on the newly discovered Đan Trì courtyard. VNA/VNS Photo Minh Thu

HÀ NỘI — Evidence of the early Lê Dynasty’s Ngự Đạo (the King’s path) was recently discovered by archaeologists at Thăng Long Imperial Citadel.

According to experts, this is the most significant find from this year’s excavations at the main area of the Kính Thiên Palace in the Imperial Citadel. 

Thousands of other artifacts, including bricks, tiles, glazed pottery, earthenware, and even a little fragment of a model of a terracotta tower from the Trần Dynasty, and a few pieces from the pre-Thăng Long period, were uncovered during this dig.

Ceramic vases and many other antiquities were discovered during the excavation at the imperial citadel of Thăng Long. VNA/VNS Photo Minh Thu

Trần Đức Cường, Chairman of the Association of Historical Sciences, expressed his delight at the results of the excavation, but added that there are still many mysteries to be solved about the detailed and overall structure of Đan Trì yard in the centre of the forbidden palace.

Cường also proposed demolishing the Department of Operations’ building to broaden the scope of the excavation and gain a more comprehensive view of the Kính Thiên Palace area.

This structure separates the open square in front of Kính Thiên Palace. It is under the management of the General Staff of the Vietnamese Army during the resistance war against America and is located on the grounds of the Imperial Citadel of Thăng Long.

“It is on the list of the project to dismantle 58 houses with no historical value in Hà Nội,” Cường said. 

“A survey in 2007 also showed that this is not a historical site and has no use value according to the classification assessment of the City Science Council. This building, after being handed over by the Ministry of National Defence to Hà Nội City, was left empty and unused until 2010, when it was renovated to receive tourists,” he added. 

National Council on Cultural Heritage member Đặng Văn Bài supports the plan to remove the structure since it will not diminish the significance of the site.

“Because it is impossible to maintain the status quo of all the works on the relic site, we must prioritise what to preserve and restore. Therefore, we can consider demolishing the structure to preserve the space of the Kính Thiên Palace,” Bài said. 

Phạm Vinh Quang, Director of the Department of Culture, External Affairs, and UNESCO at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, previously agreed that restoring the space of Kính Thiên Palace should be a top priority.

However, with the demolition of works in the heritage area, scientists and State management agencies also need to carefully consider and then develop a convincing proposal to submit to UNESCO for approval, Vinh said. VNS


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Mussel village comes out of its shell



Sifting mussels by the La Giang River. — Photo

Mussels have long been a specialty of the people of Bến Hến Village, which has more than 300 years of history.

The village is nestled on a section of the La River in Trường Sơn Commune, Đức Thọ District, Hà Tĩnh Province. Locals here make a living by raking mussels at the bottom of the river and then cooking them to sell.

These days, the section of the La River in the village is dyed with the colour of smoke emitted by the mussel cookers on the riverside. The savoury smell of mussels spreads throughout the town and serves as the indispensable flavour of the villagers.

The area for cooking mussels is about 300m long, running along the river shore. There are dozens of shacks, about 5sq.m wide, temporarily built with wooden poles and roofed with sheet metal or red and green canvas. In each shack, there is enough kitchen for a large cast iron pot to cook the mussels.

Trần Thị Trà Giang, 40, says that every day at 6pm, her husband rows a wooden boat, uses an iron rake or dives to harvest mussels on the river bed until 6am the next day. After that, she goes to the boat to pour mussels into a bamboo basket and soak them in the river for 6-7 hours to release all the dirt. In the early afternoon, she brings bamboo baskets containing mussels to the shack.

People take mussels from a boat to a makeshift kitchen to boil. — Photo

Boiling mussels requires technique. Giang needs to put two or three buckets of water in a pan and then pour in about 10-15kg of mussels. When the water boils, white foam bubbles up. She has to use a large wooden spoon to stir it again and again, then takes out the bamboo basket. It takes about 20 minutes to cook. The pure mussel broth is also drained to make consommé, often sold with mussel flesh.

Freshly cooked mussels are placed in a basket and brought to the river for sifting. Each batch of mussels is sifted for 10 minutes. Giang then brings the mussel container ashore, places it on a slight incline to drain, and puts them in a plastic bag to sell to customers. 

Boiling mussels. — Photo

Each afternoon, a household can cook six pans of about 100-150kg of mussels in total.

Local Thái Thị Liêu says: “From every 100kg of raw mussels, I can get 10kg of mussel flesh, which is sold for VNĐ200,000 per kilogram. The price of mussel flesh in other rivers is lower, from VNĐ70,000-120,000 per kilogram. I sell about 20kg of mussel flesh every day.”

According to Liêu, the reason for such a price difference is that the mussels of the La River have a rich savoury taste, and are popular with many customers to make dishes such as porridge and white rice with mussels. 

Đoàn Thị Minh, 70, often buys mussels from the village and then cooks them herself for sale at the market. “Every day, I buy 100kg of raw mussels in the village. I often gain a profit of VNĐ300,000 per day,” she says.

For Bến Hến villagers, if a household sells 10-15kg of mussel flesh, they will earn about VNĐ500,000 – VNĐ1 million in profit.

A local shows her finished products: mussel flesh. — Photo

Locals also sell mussel shells to make animal feed and quicklime.

Selling these by-products not only makes economic sense but also helps solve environmental pollution problems.

In the past, the village had nearly 200 households in its traditional mussel trade, but now there are less than 80.

Nguyễn Văn Tuyến, chairman of Trường Sơn Commune People’s Committee, says mussels in the La River are increasingly scarce, so the villagers sometimes have to go to other rivers to find them. VNS


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Kon Tum eyes heritage preservation to boost tourism



CENTRAL HIGHLANDS FASHION: People from ethnic groups in Kon Tum and 40 professional models and artists showcase dresses and ‘áo dài’ made of handloom fabric from 11 Vietnamese designers in a fashion show held at the Pa Vỹ Waterfall Eco-tourism Area in Kon Plông District on October 29. VNA/VNS Photo by Khoa Chương

The Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) province of Kon Tum has launched a series of activities highlighting the cultural heritage preservation of ethnic minorities in the region as a way to boost tourism. 

More than 54 per cent of the province’s population of 540,000 is made up of ethnic minorities, including the Xê Đăng, Bahnar, Jrai, Bahnar, Gié-triêng, Rơ Măm, Brâu, and Hre.

Kon Tum authorities recognise the province’s diverse cultures, and acknowledge the importance of cultural heritage to the community and socio-economic development.

The Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism has worked with relevant agencies and authorities to launch a wide range of activities promoting ethnic minority heritages such as gong culture, handloom weaving, festivals, social customs, and architecture.  

Kon Tum recently hosted a fashion show of áo dài (Vietnamese traditional dress) made of colourful ethnic cloth to highlight the ancient weaving craft.

The fabric used in the show was made by artisan Y Thoại. It has the signature colours of black, yellow and red, along with the signature patterns of birds, gongs and elephant tusks.

The show was held late last month at the Pa Vỹ Waterfall Eco-tourism Area in Kon Plông District, one of the province’s must-visit destinations.

The presentation featured more than 200 designs created by 11 Vietnamese fashion designers such as Cao Minh Tiến, Công Huân, Nguyễn Thúy, and Minh Hạnh.

“Each brocade áo dài is a unique item conveying the ethnic culture of minority groups in Tây Nguyên such as the Ê Đê, the Bahnar, and the Xê Đăng, who create different patterns and colour combinations for brocade,” said veteran designer Minh Hạnh.

Hạnh is globally known for pioneering designs honouring the beauty of artisanal fabric made by ethnic groups in the Northwestern and Central Highlands regions.

MUSIC AND DANCE: Ethic musicians perform traditional music and dances at the fashion show. VNA/VNS Photo by Khoa Chương

More than 100 young people from the province’s various ethnic groups and 40 professional models and artists showcased designs at the show.

Ethnic musicians also offered traditional music and dance performances at the event.

Đặng Quang Hà, chairman of the Kon Plông District’s People’s Committee, said: “It’s the first time leading Vietnamese designers have presented áo dài made of ethnic cloth in the province. The event contributes to preserving and promoting ethnic cultural values among tourists.”

Another event honouring gong culture in the Central Highlands was also held in the city of Kon Tum in September.

The festival created an opportunity for artisans to meet and to share ethnic cultural heritage with the community in order to raise awareness of protecting and preserving the gong culture.

Gong culture was recognised as a Masterpiece of the Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2005.

More than 600 artisans, musicians and performers in traditional costumes across the province participated in the event to introduce the traditional cultural traits of the region to local and international visitors.

They performed their gong dances and folk music with folk musical instruments from different ethnic groups.

Nguyễn Văn Bình, director of the province’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said the tourism sector was seeking to create new tourism products carrying the cultural identity of the Central Highlands to attract local visitors to the province.

Tourism development

DANCE PARTY: Visitors perform dancing with local people at a community-based tourism village in Kon Tum. VNA/VNS Photo by Dư Toán

In May, Kon Tum authorities announced its tourism development plan to 2025 that considers developing community-based tourism as one of the key tasks of the tourism sector.

There are dozens of community-based tourism villages where tourists can enjoy beautiful natural landscapes and learn about the culture and lifestyle of different ethnic groups.

Popular villages, such as Kon Kơ Tu in Kon Tum City and Đăk Răng in Ngọc Hồi District, offer visitors ethnic food, gong dance performances, handloom fabric products, and tours to discover the history and folk tales of the Central Highlands told by elderly locals.

According to artisan Y Lim of Kon Pring Village, more than 1,000 tourists arrived at the village this year. Tourism activities brought her family VNĐ15–20 million (US$600-800) per month, helping them not only to have a stable income but also to be able to promote their cultural values.

ORAL HISTORY: Tourists learn about the history and culture of ethnic minority groups in Kon Tum through tales of an elderly villager. VNA/VNS Photo by Dư Toán

Bình said: “Kon Tum and its people are working together to preserve cultural heritage for tourism development and contribute to improving ethnic groups’ living standards and socio-economic development, in general.”

He added the province currently was focusing on the domestic market with the aim of reviving its tourism industry.

In April, the province signed a cooperation agreement on tourism development with the Central provinces of Phú Yên, Bình Định and Quảng Ngãi, and the Central Highlands provinces of Đắk Lắk and Gia Lai.

Its Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism is working with the tourism associations of Hà Nội, Đà Nẵng and HCM City to support the province to create new and unique tourism products to attract more visitors.

WEAVING SKILL: Local women at the Kon Trang Long Loi community-based tourism village in Đắk Hà District weave fabric with handlooms. VNA/VNS Photo by Dư Toán

Speaking at the forum on tourism development in Kon Tum in April, Hà Văn Siêu, deputy director of the Việt Nam National Administration of Tourism, said that Kon Tum had potential to become a new tourism spot after the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, challenges such as lack of accommodation, human resources, and transport connections with neighbouring provinces prevented Kon Tum from development, he added.

Kon Tum is calling on investment in luxurious accommodations, human resources, and transportation infrastructure to connect tourism sites and destinations among the provinces in the Central Highlands to help the province complete its tourism plan.

Under the plan, the province targets to have at least five hotels with four or five-star standards and recruit 3,000 tourism workers by 2025.

It also expects to welcome 2.5 million visitors by 2025.

More than 982,000 tourists have so far this year visited Kon Tum, reaching 109 per cent of the year’s target. — VNS


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