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Collection marking 200 years of Chinese in Saigon

Mr. Duong Rach Sanh in District 6, currently stores 2,500 Chinese utensils, pictures, papers, costumes, etc., marking the integration process, from the first day he came to Saigon – Cho Lon to settle down.

Most of the objects are from the early 19th century, which he displayed at a house on An Duong Vuong Street, District 5.

“My family also settled from China more than 100 years ago. Because I want the next generation to understand and remember the tradition, I store many items, papers, pictures of the Chinese community living in the Saigon area. – Cho Lon,” said Mr. Sanh, 44 years old.

The exhibition space is about 200 square meters, divided into thematic areas of costumes, antiques, papers, pictures, shops… Most of the objects were donated to him by Chinese families.

In one room is a display of 100 items such as paintings, clothes, kitchenware, garments… dating back to the 1950s. “These are the first memorabilia I have, all belonging to a group of women. donated when their house was demolished in 2013. They threw away a lot of things, I feel sorry to keep a part,” said Mr. Sanh.

In the following years, the number of old items increased gradually, so from 2019, he started to work as a personal gallery, to make it easier to store, inventory and avoid damage like when in storage.

The oldest in the collection are the gatekeeper stone (left corner) and the stone pedestal supporting the wooden pillars in the Chinese temple in Cho Lon (now no longer) which is about 200 years old.

According to the 2019 Survey of 53 Ethnic Minorities, there are about 750,000 Chinese people living in Vietnam, of which more than 500,000 are in Ho Chi Minh City. The Chinese migrated to Vietnam at different times, as early as the 16th century and lasted until the first half of the 20th century.

The Lu Ban pillow dates back to 1898, brought by a Chinese family from Trieu An (China) when they came to Saigon to settle down. This is one of the valuable artifacts in the collection. In addition, he also has many other types of porcelain, wooden… from the early 20th century.

Lu Ban Pillow is also known as “Bai Bead”, which is said to have been invented by Mr. Lu Ban (507-444 BC) of the Lu country during the Spring and Autumn period. Pillows are made up of pieces of wood, which can be folded.

The bronze iron is dated to the end of the Qing Dynasty, around the beginning of the 20th century, brought by the Chinese from their homeland.

Tai chi sword of a physician, often used to practice martial arts, was minted in 1949.

The remaining ceramic tiles from pagodas, assembly halls and clan temples in Cho Lon were donated to Mr. Sanh.

Ordained by King Bao Dai to reward his descendants Hua Bon Hoa (ie Chu Hoa) in 1942.

On the shelves are displayed many objects from before 1975 such as cups, cups, kettles, irons… of many Chinese families.

Another corner hangs pictures, the diaphragm of an ancient temple. In the left corner, there is a burden of needles and needles that women often carry to sell garments used for Tet holidays and weddings.

This load was popular in the 1970s, now almost no longer.

The room specializes in displaying all kinds of costumes and accessories for daily life or for Chinese New Year and wedding occasions.

The collection’s owner dedicates a small room that recreates a 1970s grocery store, with more than 200 memorabilia on display.

“I am very excited to see many familiar childhood items that my family used to have. Besides, there are many other valuable memorabilia, showing the integration of the Chinese community in Saigon”, Ms. Hue Trinh, District 11 said, while being led by the owner to visit.

Mr. Sanh said, because the gallery is a private space, it cannot open regularly. In the future, he plans to organize an exhibition for everyone to visit.

Photo: Internet (

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