Vietnam’s beauty in the early 20th century was featured through photos taken by several foreign photographers in 1915 and 1916.

The photos included in a collection were taken under sponsorship of Albert Kahn (1860 – 1940) who was a French banker and philanthropist.

Albert Kahn

In 1909, Kahn travelled with his chauffeur and photographer, Alfred Dutertre to Japan on business and returned with photographs from the journey. This prompted him to begin a project to collect a photographic record from around the world.  Between 1909 and 1931 they collected 72,000 colour photographs and 183,000 meters of film. They form a unique historical record from 50 countries, known as “The Archives of the Planet”.

In early 1929 Kahn was still one of the richest men in Europe. Later that year the crash on Wall Street severely reduced his financial empire, and in 1931 he was forced to bring his project to an end.

A century after he launched his “The Archives of the Planet” project, the BBC has restored the it, bringing Kahn’s dazzling pictures to a wider audience for the first time in a book named “The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn”.

Photos of Vietnam taken by Albert Kahn’s photographers in 1915 and 1916:

Hang Thiec Street, Hanoi

Hang Gai Street, Hanoi

Paul Dummer (Long Bien) Bridge, Hanoi

Red River

Northern officials in ceremonial costumes

Resident Superior in Northern Vietnam besides his wife and four children

Village officials in a festival

Vietnamese women chewing betel

Smoking opium

A Chinese women addicted to opium

A psychic

A calligrapher

Smallwares vendors

Ha Long Bay in 1916

Ha Long Bay in 1915