Precious Heritage Museum

It is impossible to travel through Vietnam without bearing witness to the complicated history of the country. From the various outside influences that have made their way into the country’s architecture and cuisine to the traditions and ways of life that are so decidedly unique to each region.

The first time Réhahn journeyed to the Northern hill regions near Sapa, he was expecting to take photos of singular cascading landscapes but instead he found himself drawn to the people who lived there. First, he met the Red Dao and the Hmong tribes and was impressed by the beauty of their craftsmanship and the diversity of their culture. These early photos inspired the photographer to try to acquire more knowledge about the other groups in Vietnam and he was surprised to learn that far beyond the few tribes that are commonly listed in tourism brochures there are actually 54 succinct ethnic groups, many with little or no information available to the public.

The Decision To Document Vietnam’s Precious Heritage

For nearly a decade, from tribe to tribe, photograph to photograph, Réhahn has travelled hundreds of miles throughout Vietnam, taking his motorbike into places that are difficult to access. He has witnessed firsthand the complex diversity of these groups as well as their strong traditions in embroidery, fabric tinting, music and the arts.

The Precious Heritage project began as a way to document and share the cultural heritage and stories of each group as well as to preserve an example of their varied traditional costumes.

Réhahn officially completed his primary mission of documenting all 54 officially recognized ethnic groups in Vietnam and numerous subgroups in September 2019.

The Living History Of Art

It’s important to understand that this project isn’t about recording facts and figures nor does Réhahn consider himself to be an ethnologist. Réhahn seeks to honor the living history of the people he meets through his art as well as creating, for the first time, a single location where the stories, photographs and traditional costumes of all 54 tribes will be represented.

Each trip is a journey into generational wisdom and the value of heritage.

He is grateful for the opportunity to enter into the lives of the people he meets, however briefly.

The Precious Heritage museum, located in the ancient town of Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, consists of a collection of 100 photographs, 62 traditional wardrobe ensembles and spans 5 rooms and 500sqm. Most of the costumes were given to Réhahn by the chief of each village. The museum is completely free to the public as a way to honor and share that gift.

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The Fine Art Room

The Fine Art room will be your first stop on your journey through our museum. Here, you will be met by all of Réhahn’s most iconic and bestselling photographs. Many of these images are very personal to the French photographer and mark significant turning points in his career, vision and development as an artist.

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The Indigo Room

The newest addition to the museum is a room that will truly take you on a voyage “Into the Land of Indigo”.

The first thing you will notice upon entering the room is that the walls are painted the deepest blue. This is no ordinary paint. It is, in fact, the very same indigo dye that is used by ethnic groups such as the Dao, Nung, Hmong and the La Chi to create their incredibly rich blue textiles. Explanatory texts in the Indigo Room will teach you about the tribe’s sustainable process for making this non-toxic “paint” as well as textile techniques that have been passed down for centuries such as hemp harvesting and batik design. These techniques are an integral part of the culture, heritage, and in some cases, livelihood of these ethnic groups.

Indigo-dyed handicrafts and full-color portraits of the incredible women who spend their lives creating heritage textiles are on display in the room. Take a moment to browse through the products and pause over a cup of K’Ho coffee. For an incredible flavor, you can sweeten the coffee with organic honey harvested by the Co Tu tribe in the central highland mountains. Come and immerse yourself in the stories and remarkable traditions of Vietnam for an unforgettable experience in the Land of Indigo.

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Northern Vietnam

Northern Vietnam is a breathtaking destination. Réhahn travelled to the furthest reaches of the country to photograph tribes such as the Cong whose cultural heritage was largely left behind when they migrated from Laos to Vietnam. He’s been sung to by the Si La, whose silver coin lined costumes are said to bring good luck. He’s met the Dao and the Pu Peo, the Kho Mu and the Flower Hmong, each ethnicity differing from one another in language, skills or traditional costumes. The Northern region can be a difficult land to travel through and even more so to live in but the beauty, colors and contrasts of these mountainous villages draw Réhahn back again and again.

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Central And Southern Vietnam

Many areas of Central and Southern Vietnam where the ethnic groups live have remained inaccessible to foreigners. Réhahn has worked tirelessly over the years to obtain entry into these remote regions. One highlight was having the privilege of meeting the O Du, the smallest ethnic group in Vietnam at only 376 people.

Since Réhahn lives in Central Vietnam, he is able to visit with some of these ethnic groups regularly and he can see how the modernity of the outside world is changing their paths. This section of the museum is truly a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the people and their traditional costumes, many of which are no longer being made.