One of the best parts about Hanoi was the Women’s Museum. Despite the horrible rain, I was determined to go here. It is a place dedicated to the Vietnamese women and was established in 1987 but has only been open to the public since 1995. Definitely make sure you have at least 2 hours to dedicate here if you want to see/read everything it has to offer.
There are 4 floors in the building. I started at the top.
The top floor was dedicated to women’s fashion from the 1940’s until today. There were also information about different processes of dying fabric, threading and teeth lacquer which I found to be the most interesting.
Teeth lacquer is a traditional beauty ritual which signifies one is ready for marriage (usually started after the first menstruation). They use a dye, red sticklac which is a resin sap from a local insect that has fed off a tree, which is wrapped in something similar to a beetle nut. This process can be quite painful as the gums and mouth swell leaving the women only able to feed through a straw temporarily. They are required to do three applications of this because saliva will wash away some of the first application.
The third floor was dedicated to history. It beings with the history of the Trung Sisters in 40A.D. and continues to present day.
There is a “half floor” between the third and second. The “half floor” talked about Vietnamese family life. Women took a huge part in cultivation, foraging and transportation of food. They fish in the shallow water and took a large part in rice production. After all this they needed to focus on meal preparation for their families. They were also in charge of sewing, weaving and raising children.
Special exhibition- “Worshiping the Mother Goddess: Pure Heart– Beauty – Joy” The Mother Goddess is a Vietnamese folk belief that has become very popular today. Many people look to the Mother Goddess for emotional support,help from worries of daily life along with good health and fortune. People who believe in Mother Goddess believe she rules over everything with four palaces and their representing color, earth(yellow), heavens (red), water (white) and forest/mountains (green).
Here are a couple of political cartoons that were around the entrance while I was there.