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Muong museum

Cập nhật: 30/4/2009 | 12:00:00 AM

As the first private museum on the Muong people, the Muong Cultural Space displays the ethnic minority traditions in life-size dioramas as well as in live demonstrations and conventional display cases.

The museum’s founder and owner, 32-yearold Vu Duc Hieu, says the museum “is about incorporating heritage back into the community, making it a part of everyone, rather than letting it die or become some lifeless thing.”
Hieu fell in love with Muong culture when he was a student. He spent most of his college days traveling around the northern province of Hoa Binh’s Muong villages learning about the people and collecting pieces of their culture.

The Muong are the third largest of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups and are the most directly related to the majority Kinh Vietnamese. They are concentrated mainly in Hoa Binh and the north-central province of Thanh Hoa.

Graduating from the University of Industrial Fine Arts in Hanoi, Hieu set aside his love of painting for the dream of building a museum dedicated to the Muong.

He has passionately visited Muong villages for 10 years buying old bowls, looms and old clothes and now has some 1,000 artifacts, relics, tools, everyday items and works of art.

From exciting bamboo weapons to ancient gongs used as status symbols by aristocratic families, Hieu’s museum touches on nearly every aspect of life.

He has even recreated traditional stilt houses, village centers and crop fields so that the outside of the museum looks much like a real Muong community.

The cultural space is home to ceramics and pottery from the 14th century as well as common fishing baskets still used today.

“Many people told me to not display valuable things but all these things are invaluable,” Hieu says. “I display them to preserve them for the community.”

Living museum

The agricultural display outside the museum includes an irrigation system, complete with a water wheel. In addition, three Muong families live in the museum’s stilt houses, demonstrating traditional agricultural techniques and other cultural traits for visitors.

The residents tend to a traditional medicine garden and also treat visitors to home cooked meals as well as song and dance performances. The cultural space also has a showroom exhibiting ancient Muong funeral rituals.

Each item display provides the previous owner’s name, age and address, as well as the date the item or items were collected.

“Tourists can learn the origin of things. This is also to show our gratefulness to those who have given their property to the museum,” says Hieu.

Traditional textiles, field tools, household items, hunting weapons, funeral costumes and art are all on display at the Muong Cultural Space.

Hieu says he hopes his visitors come and understand the essence of this unique culture while witnessing the different way of life firsthand.

Thanks to his live-in presenters, the museum has true piece of the Muong soul in it, he adds.

Further information can be accessed at the museum website www.muong.vn

(Nguồn tin: Tuoi Tre)