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Torres Strait Masks to be exhibited at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Released at: 17:12, 15/05/2018

Torres Strait Masks to be exhibited at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology

Photo: Embassy of Australia

For the first time in Vietnam, an exhibition of Torres Strait masks will be displayed to the public.

by Le Diem

The exhibition ”Evolution: Torres Strait Masks” will take place from May 18 - July 18. The Australian Embassy in Hanoi together with the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology organized the event.

The exhibition was organized to celebrate the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Vietnam and International Museum Day, which falls on May 18. Representatives from the Australian Embassy, the Vietnam Academy of Social Sciences, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology and other cultural institutions will be attending the opening ceremony on May 18.

The unique Torres Strait masks, which vary in shape and size, will be showcased at the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, which is located on Nguyen Van Huyen Street in Cau Giay District, Hanoi.

Torres Strait is a network of islands located between Northern Australia and Papua New Guinea. The people of this area have managed to maintain their vibrant artistic, spiritual and cultural traditions. These masks are one of the most rare and spectacular in the world.

They’re made from materials such as wood, shells and feathers and play an important role in uniting the diverse groups of the Torres Strait together. It’s a big part of their ancient ways of life, families, clans, and tribes.

The making and wearing of these beautifully decorated masks is one of the region’s most distinctive traditions. While rooted in ancient protocols and spirituality, masks and mask making today are celebrated as expressions of artistic and cultural revival.

In response to the International Museum's theme of “Museum in Digital Connection: A New Approach, New Public" by the International Council of Museums (ICOM), the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is also organizing a number of activities such as a presentation on applying 4.0 technology in museums, experiencing audiotapes and 3D virtual reality, giving postcards for lucky visitors, and giving away free tickets for all visitors on May 18.

The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi offers insights into the 54 different ethnic groups of Vietnam in an effort to preserve cultural heritage and promote socio-cultural diversity within the country. The museum is packed full of information detailing traditional Vietnamese ways of life, from religious events to the symbolic rituals of all the Vietnamese ethnic groups, providing a rich tapestry of the cultural melting pot that exists in Vietnam.

The museum has over 15,000 artifacts including photographs and other multi-media such as audiotapes. Its indoor exhibition space can be viewed via a virtual tour which includes the Viet, Muong, Tho, Chut, Tav, Thai, Ka Dai, H’Mong-Dao, Tang, San Dui, Ngai, Mon-Khmer, Nam-Dao, Cham, Hoa and Khmer ethnic groups. There are priceless antiques on display alongside everyday objects such as pipes, baskets and knives. There’s a wide range of interesting items on display at the museum such as clothes, jewelry and items related to weddings, funeral ceremonies and other spiritual rituals. They offer an incomparable glimpse of their history, heritage and cultural identity. The outdoor area presents a range of traditional homes including a Tay stilt house and a Viet house complete with indigenous foliage, each separated by a small stream and reached via little bridges. The future aim of the museum is to showcase the many cultural practices and civilizations across Southeast Asia.

The museum was selected as one of the best museums in Vietnam by TripAdvisor, a leading travel site.

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