Culture Culture

03/03/2022 - 08:51

Promoting the heritage of Hue through ancient costume

Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien is a fanpage founded by fashion designer Tran Quang Minh Tan and his friends to promote the beauty of the heritage of Hue through ancient costume. In the meantime, they also want to tell stories about Hue history and culture.

“Shadow of Sorrow”

The story behind each photo collection 

On the occasion of Mid-Autumn Festival, Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan’s family lineage house was decorated with colorful lanterns, drums, trays of food, etc., by the members of Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien. Fruit and dishes of autumn such as thanh tra grapefruit, lotus root jam, mooncake, various kinds of banh in, etc., reminded people of the flavor of the Mid-Autumn Festival of the old days. 

In that ancient garden house, the traditional activities and the warm atmosphere of unification of Mid-Autumn Festival with the presence of many generations in the family were clearly reproduced in the photos.

“The ancient imperial capital of Hue preserves many ancient customs. We reproduce some old cultural customs so that young people know more about traditional cultural values and those who cannot return home on this day due to the pandemic have a chance to recall some beautiful childhood memories. We also want to remind people that home can be anywhere there is love,” said Tran Quang Minh Tan, the founder of Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien.

To complete the photo collections, the members of Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien had to prepare very carefully

The photo collection "Shadow of Sorrow" that Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien has just introduced portrays the fate of the concubines and maids at quiet profound Khiem Lang (Emperor Tu Duc’s Mausoleum.) Legend has it that because emperor Tu Duc had no children, after his death, his concubines had to follow him to his mausoleum and spent the rest of their lives there. Through the photos one can feel the solitude of Khiem Lang, beautiful but filled with sorrows of the women who lived there. 

On the last days of the year, the young people of Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien together went to Phu Mau to take photographs of Thanh Tien paper flowers. With a view to promoting the original traditional craft village to everyone and spreading the quintessence of traditional culture, the photo collection shows the continuity from the old to the new by portraying the bustling daily life of a family which makes paper flowers in Thanh Tien Village on the last days of the year.

The bright and fresh colors signal the coming Tet holidays. The photo collection is to show respect for people who are working hard to preserve memories of traditional Tet, something very Hueish. 

Promoting the beauty of the heritage

The project "Promoting the Beauty of the Heritage through Ancient Costume” is established by Tran Quang Minh Tan and some other young people who love culture and history, especially the court culture of the Nguyen dynasty to promote the beauty of Hue cultural heritage through ancient costume. By taking photos portraying maids, eunuchs, and guards at the royal mausoleums, they want to introduce to the public the grandeur of the palaces and the solemn atmosphere of royal mausoleums hence telling stories about Hue history and culture.

Choosing Hue as his second hometown, Minh Tan has cherished this idea for a long time and is supported by a number of photographers such as Trung Phan, Nguyen Phong, Nhat Long, models, and makeup artists. They devote all their energy and money to this non-profit project just to promote the heritage of Hue.

“The aim of this fanpage is to promote the heritage of Hue, including first of all the relic destinations, then stories about the history of the Nguyen dynasty. I used five-panel ao dai and Nhat Binh ao dai designed by me. Each photo collection has a story with the content and form suitable for young people. Young people now enjoy lively beautiful photos which will become documentary photos. But more than that, we want our models to live lives of the characters. With this, young people will value culture and history and become more interested in the heritage of Hue,” said Minh Tan.

On order to complete these photo collections, the members of Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien had to prepare very carefully. Sometimes it took them a whole month to finish a collection. Minh Tan was the one who came up with ideas, prepared costume and accessories, discussed with photographers to select a beautiful unique location that matched the story, organized the shooting, and looked for right models. Minh Tan had to read books and documents and learn about the history of the Nguyen dynasty as well as Hue culture and decided how to convey the story and the historical context properly.

Photographers and models had to view documentary pictures and read old historical books so that they could create right setting and capture characters’ spirit, including their mood, posture, and style and tell the viewer the story they wanted to convey. “I join this project because of passion. I want to promote cultural values through ancient costume. I’d like people to understand how the young now look at the past. I’m interested in historical stories about the Nguyen dynasty, the relics, and the royal mausoleums, and I want to tell people the story behind each photo,” said photographer Trung Phan.

Story and photos: Thanh Hien - Nam Trieu Y Trang Vien