BackHeritage » Hanoi » [Illustrations] Paintings of Hanoi’s Old Quarter in the Feudal Era

[Illustrations] Paintings of Hanoi’s Old Quarter in the Feudal Era

Depicting an age before the stress of modern life took hold, these illustrations are an endearing reminder of the Old Quarter’s former imperial life over 1,000 years ago.

Water flows around every corner, lending tranquility to the activities taken up by a generation of settlers. Merchants row boats on To Lich River, carrying foods and goods to sell. Silk-makers hang their creations on makeshift stands in the sun, waiting for the dye to dry. A woman rinses her hair by the lakeshore while next to her, a boy in undergarments is about to pour cool water over his head.

Thatched cottages give off an air of earthiness, complemented by the elegance of red-roofed townhouses. And whether a vast panorama or a focalized snapshot of activities, each painting is a humble tribute to Hanoi’s past.

Local comic book artist Nguyen Thanh Phong finished them all in 2015 with the help of French architect Romain Orfeuvre. In 2011, Phong became famous after releasing a picture book that altered and re-contextualized Vietnamese proverbs to reflect a Vietnam where mass urbanization and consumerism were already reshaping people’s lexicon. Cultural re-definition seems to be central to his creativity, yet with these Old Quarter illustrations, we see that capturing authenticity is also key.

Perhaps embracing this duality would be the best way to view these artworks: they are not merely a fond reminder of the past, but also a chance to juxtapose with the present.

The paintings are part of the permanent exhibition Kẻ Chợ > Phố Cổ at 50 Dao Duy Tu. 

[Photos via Behance user Phong Nguyen Thanh]

Related Articles:

[Illustrations] Battle of the Tet Traditions: Hanoians vs. Saigoneers

[Illustrations] Local Artists Bring Vietnam's Eclectic Shopfronts to Life

- [Illustrations] The Rustic Charm of South Korea's Mom-and-Pop Shops

Related Articles

in Hanoi

A Personal History of Hồ Tây: Romance, Colonial Rule and Subsidy-Era Fishing Heists

My father-in-law has spent decades visiting Hồ Tây (West Lake). His personal story both contrasts and reflects Vietnam's history as a whole and, as a result, offers a profound insight into the im...

in Hanoi

Author Michael Vann on Hanoi's Infamous Colonial Rat Hunt

When facing a bubonic plague epidemic, is it wiser to delve into sewers and cull infected rats yourself or offer payment to Vietnamese for deliveries of severed tails instead? For Hanoi’s French colon...

in Hanoi

Date With the Wrecking Ball: The Last Transmission From Dai La

In the southern reaches of the Vietnamese capital, a French villa will be demolished in the coming months following a decision by the Hanoi People’s Committee to construct a new ring road. The elegant...

in Hanoi

Hanoi Launches Night Tour at Hoa Lo Prison to Attract Domestic Tourists

History buffs from the rest of the country might find the night tour an opportunity to observe the storied historical site from a different perspective.

in Hanoi

Part of Historic Building, Meant to Be Preserved, Destroyed After Miscommunication

Part of a historic building, meant to be saved from demolition and recognized as a heritage site, has been bulldozed thanks to a miscommunication. 

in Hanoi

Street Photos in 1973 Capture a Rebuilding Hanoi After Linebacker II

In this collection of black-and-white photos taken by German photographer Horst Faas, Hanoi's streets seem bursting with life, but lurking behind innocent smiling children and packed tram rides are th...

Partner Content