Veteran photographer in love with the Central Highlands

Veteran photographer Tran Phong was the first Vietnamese artist to be recognised as a Master of Photographer by the Photographic Society of America.

Veteran photographer in love with the Central Highlands
Photographer Tran Phong.

Last month he released a bilingual English-Vietnamese photo book titled Tượng Gỗ Tây Nguyên (Wooden Statues in the Central Highlands of Vietnam). 

Phong talks about the book and his love for the Central Highlands (Tay Nguyen) culture.

Why you did you still choose Tay Nguyen as the subject for your third book?

I have published two books on Tây Nguyên culture already titled Điêu Khắc Gỗ Dân Gian Jrai, Ba Na (Folk Wood Engraving of Jarai and Ba Na Ethnic Groups) in 1995 and Le Hoi Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands Festival) in 2008.

The area has a rich traditional culture that involves cồng chiêng (gong), charnel houses, statues and costumes.

People from the region have a characteristic beauty which is natural and wild. During my career, I've been attracted by this beauty.

I have been working in the sector and I've had the chance to learn about Tay Nguyen culture. That's given me the passion to take photos of daily life in this region.

How long did it take you to compile Tượng Gỗ Tây Nguyên?

I began making the book in 1986. Two thirds of the photos in the book were taken from 1986 to 1990. I planned to publish the book about ten years ago but I did not have the chance to.

When I retired I had more spare time to select more than 300 photos of wooden statues, charnel houses and other related subjects for the book. It took me a lot of time and hard work.

I have taken nearly 1,000 photos of this subject, but these photos represent the statues of the Jarai and Ba Na ethnic groups. Different localities their own characteristics for their statues.

This may not be obvious to everyone. This book is themed "wooden statues", and I designed it myself.

Veteran photographer in love with the Central Highlands
Bilingual English-Vietnamese photo book Tượng Gỗ Tây Nguyên (Wooden Statues in the Central Highlands of Việt Nam). Photo courtesy of Tran Phong

How often do you go to the Central Highlands? Has it changed much?

I have gone on many trips to take photos, but it is becoming more and more difficult because the folk culture is fading away.

 

In the past, the Ja Rai group in remote districts like Ayun Pa and Krông Pa had many beautiful wooden statues and charnel houses.

We no longer have the opportunity to see the wooden statues with artistic value like many years ago. The charnel houses and statues have been modernised with cement, enamelled brick and steel roofs. Very few elderly artisans are left in the area and the wooden statues have gradually disappeared from modern life.

It is the same in Kon Tum Province's Sa Thay District.

However, the two ethnic groups in Gia Lai Province's Ia Mơ Nông Commune in Chu Pa District and some villages in Kông Chro District are keeping the traditional lễ bỏ mả (tomb ceremony), charnel houses and statues alive.

But in my opinion, charnel houses and wooden statues don't hold the same folk sculpture values as before. The old artisans have left us and the young artisans have been affected by modern life.

Last year you won dozens of international prizes. Could you tell us about them?

The award-winning photos were taken in Tay Nguyen and other areas by the coast and in the northern mountains.

These photos picked up top prizes at international photo contests in Greek, Italy, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Australia, Singapore, Serbia and India. The contests were sponsored by FIAP and PSA.

During your nearly 40 year-career you have travelled a lot. Where do you want to go to now in Vietnam?

Every year, I take a few field trips. There are many places in Vietnam I have not visited yet.

Tay Nguyen has always been my favourite destination to take photos. I want to enrich my photo collection of this area. 

I take single photos and collections as well. I plan to compile another collection of Tay Nguyen.

At this moment I'm not sure, but I want to publish one more book. VNS

Book on Central Highlands culture published

Book on Central Highlands culture published

Photographer Tran Phong has released a new book entitled Tuong Go Tay Nguyen (Wooden Statues in The Central Highlands of Vietnam).

Balkan Exhibition honours Vietnamese photographers

Balkan Exhibition honours Vietnamese photographers

Vietnamese photographers have won prizes at the 5th Balkan Exhibition.  

 
 

Other News

.
U19 footballers gather ahead of AFC U19 Championship finals
U19 footballers gather ahead of AFC U19 Championship finals
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

Head coach of the Vietnam U19 men’s national team Philippe Troussier has called up a large squad of 29 footballers in preparation for the upcoming AFC U19 Championship 2020 finals which are set to get underway in Uzbekistan between October 14-31.

Nearly 2,000 to participate in Tien Phong Marathon 2020
Nearly 2,000 to participate in Tien Phong Marathon 2020
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

Nearly 2,000 Vietnamese and foreign people will participate in the Tien Phong Marathon National Championship.

Park Hang-seo number 2 football coach in Southeast Asia
Park Hang-seo number 2 football coach in Southeast Asia
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

The head coach of the Thailand national football team Kiatisuk Senamuang has surpassed Park Hang-seo of Vietnam to be named as the most successful national team coach in ASEAN of the past decade, announced by AFF website.

Vietnam Press Museum ready to open
Vietnam Press Museum ready to open
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

A number of rare items and documents which mark significant events in the history of the Vietnamese revolutionary press are set to be showcased to guests at the first-ever Vietnam Press Museum in Hanoi.

Hue Festival to bring visitors new tourism experience: organisers
Hue Festival to bring visitors new tourism experience: organisers
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  19/06/2020 

The organisers of the Hue Festival have just announced the main activities taking place at the 11th Hue Festival, which will be held between August 28 and September 2.

Spanish cuisine to be popularised in Hanoi
Spanish cuisine to be popularised in Hanoi
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

People in Hanoi will have an opportunity to explore Spanish cuisine at the World Tapa Day to be held in the capital on June 20.

The wind named Vu Phong still blows
The wind named Vu Phong still blows
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

It's not out of the ordinary for old players to thrive in Vietnamese football and the likes of Dinh Xuan Viet (37 years old) of Nam Dinh and midfielder Le Tan Tai (36 years old) of Hong Linh Ha Tinh are still solid performers.

Two exhibitions open at HCMC's Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
Two exhibitions open at HCMC's Factory Contemporary Arts Centre
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

Two solo exhibitions of artists Huong Ngo and Thy Nguyen will open at the Factory Contemporary Arts Centre on June 19.

Veteran artist draws to preserve ethnic clothes
Veteran artist draws to preserve ethnic clothes
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

Veteran artist Do Duc is displaying his lacquer paintings on ethnic clothes for the first time at his house at Thong Dong Ville at 15B, 656 Lane, Lac Long Quan Street, Hanoi.

Christian Coleman: World 100m champion provisionally suspended after third missed drugs test
Christian Coleman: World 100m champion provisionally suspended after third missed drugs test
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

World 100m champion Christian Coleman is provisionally suspended after missing a third doping test, says the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Sky Tour leads box office
Sky Tour leads box office
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  18/06/2020 

A documentary featuring popular singer Son Tung’s live shows in 2019 is leading the box office.

Hanoi concert to honour forefront ‘soldiers’ in COVID-19 fight
Hanoi concert to honour forefront ‘soldiers’ in COVID-19 fight
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

A special concert entitled “We Return” will take place in Hanoi on June 19 as a “thank-you” gesture to those who have been on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19, gathering together over 130 artists from Vietnam’s three largest orchestras.

Drama troupe offers new shows in Hanoi style
Drama troupe offers new shows in Hanoi style
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

Le Ngoc Drama, one of Hanoi’s leading private theatres, will offer a series of new shows at HCM City’s Opera House next week. 

Sketches showing different aspects of life on display
Sketches showing different aspects of life on display
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

An exhibition of more than 100 sketches opened yesterday in Hanoi giving a new perspective on sketching.

Beauty queens shine in Ao Dai bearing images of national sea and islands
Beauty queens shine in Ao Dai bearing images of national sea and islands
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  16/06/2020 

Ngoc Han, Miss Vietnam 2010, participated in a press conference on June 16 alongside many other beauty queens to launch a national marathon championship by Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper in Hanoi.

Musical drama for children to be restaged
Musical drama for children to be restaged
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  16/06/2020 

The musical drama Tấm Cám (Tấm and Cám), a production written by Hung Lam, will be restaged in a new version 20 years after its first release in HCM City.

Coach Park among the best coaches in Asia: Fox Sports
Coach Park among the best coaches in Asia: Fox Sports
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  16/06/2020 

Fox Sports Asia has selected Vietnam’s coach Park Hang-seo as one of the nine best coaches in Asia.

Social distancing paintings on display in Hanoi
Social distancing paintings on display in Hanoi
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  16/06/2020 

The People newspaper and the Vietnam Fine Arts Association displayed paintings created during social distancing on Monday in Hanoi.

Vietnamese folk games: sitting tug-of-war and clay firecracker hurling
Vietnamese folk games: sitting tug-of-war and clay firecracker hurling
YOUR VIETNAMicon  17/06/2020 

Traditional folk games have played an important role in Vietnamese culture. They still have been an almost magical attractions for Vietnamese children, and are played in every corner of the nation.

Historic hats returned to former glory
Historic hats returned to former glory
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTSicon  17/06/2020 

Royal hats dating back to the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945) that were ravaged by the passing of time have been restored to their original splendour thanks to artisan Vu Kim Loc in HCM City.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN