The National Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi, Vietnam: A Photo Tour

The National Museum of Vietnamese History is in an ochre-colored building which was once the museum of the Far East Research Institute. It was designed by Ernest Hebrad, who created a successful fusion of French and Vietnamese architecture.

Inside the museum are displays on several periods of Vietnamese history. Unfortunately, not all of them are well-labelled.

The National History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam
The National History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam | Source
A remnant of the Champa Kingdom, which is now central Vietnam.
A remnant of the Champa Kingdom, which is now central Vietnam. | Source
A peaceful looking Buddha from one of Vietnam's royal dynasties
A peaceful looking Buddha from one of Vietnam's royal dynasties

Sculptures from the Champa Kingdom and the Vietnamese Royal Dynasties

The National Museum of Vietnamese History has an array of sculptures from the Champa kingdom to the different dynasties that ruled Vietnam. Several impressive Dong Son drums from the Bronze Age can also be found in the museum.

The Champa Kingdom, which is now central and southern Vietnam and a portion of Cambodia, was once a flourishing kingdom in the 9th and 10th century. During it's decline, it suffered several attacks from the Khmer kingdom which the Vietnamese took advantage of to expand their small northern kingdom. One can now visit a huge site of Champa ruins by taking a tour from Hoi An.

Some of the sculptures found in these ruins are displayed in this museum. Unfortunately, most of them are outside, slowly deteriorating in Hanoi's acid rains.

Several pieces from the royal dynasties can also be found in this museum. Most of them come from the Nguyen Dynasty.

Doors from the Nguyen Dynasty
Doors from the Nguyen Dynasty
A markerNational Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi -
Pham Ngu Lao, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Vietnam
[get directions]

The Battle of Bach Dang, 938 A.D.
The Battle of Bach Dang, 938 A.D. | Source
Dioramas in The National History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam
Dioramas in The National History Museum, Hanoi, Vietnam

Battle of Bach Dang 938

Another feature of this museum are the dioramas that show scenes in Vietnam's history. The most impressive one is the diorama that shows the victorious Battle of Bach Dang in 938 A.D. when the Vietnamese used knowledge of the land to beat the Chinese in an epic battle.

Anticipating that the Chinese will be moving along the Bach Dang River, Ngo Quyen commanded his men to plant sharp steel-tipped poles in the bed of the river. When the high tide concealed these sharp weapons, he asked some of his men to provoke the Chinese to lead them to charge in the direction of the poles. As the Chinese approached, the tide began to lower, revealing the concealed weapons and trapping and sinking their warships.

The Battle of Bach Dang River, 1288
The Battle of Bach Dang River, 1288 | Source

Battle of Bach Dang, 1288

The same tactic was used against the Mongols in 1288. This time, it was Tran Hung Dao who commanded the positioning of huge sharp poles along the river. Once again, the Vietnamese managed to gawd their enemies to charge into the sharp poles, wrecing their warships and losing the war.

A painting of this victorious moment can be found in the museum. They have also preserved the wooden poles used to deter the Mongols.

Old texts
Old texts | Source

Vietnamese Writing

The National Museum of Vietnamese History also shows the progression of Vietnamese writing from Chinese characters to their own complicated version of the Chinese characters to the present characters to the Latin alphabet version brought about by the French influence that is used today.

Above: The cards used by the French to collect taxes. Below: A whip that is made of animal bone.
Above: The cards used by the French to collect taxes. Below: A whip that is made of animal bone. | Source
A pagoda model on the National History Museum grounds in Hanoi, Vietnam
A pagoda model on the National History Museum grounds in Hanoi, Vietnam | Source

Which of these places did you enjoy visiting in Hanoi?

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The National Museum of History in Hanoi has a lot of interesting pieces on display. Unfortunately, the lack of labels and explanations can make a tourist less appreciative of the exhibits. So, it's not a bad idea to spend a bit more and get a tour guide.

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