Imperial Past, Hue, Vietnam

I gave in to the inevitable recently and have spent the last couple of weeks uploading images to cloud storage. Around 39,000 image files of one kind or another, almost 700GB worth of photos. In the process I started fooling around with old photos. I keep telling myself I am going to add some galleries to this website. And maybe I will one of these days. In the meantime, this is an image was taken on the grounds of the Imperial City of Vietnam’s final dynasty that made Hue its capital from 1804 to the middle of the 20th century. It’s from a trip to Hue towards the end of 2016. Definitely a photoshopped image – “enhanced” sky, a lot of saturation, and two filters, one to bring out the greens in the foliage, a second adding soft focus and a bit of diffusion – going after the dreamlike feeling that comes with walking around this magnificent but rundown monument to the past.

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Southern Gate, Imperial City, Hue

Southern Gate, Hue Citadel, Vietnam

Hue, today a small city in central Vietnam, served as the capital of the Nguyen dynasty from 1802 until the end of WWII in 1945 when the last emperor, Bao Dai, abdicated and the communist Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh established a government in Hanoi. As you may recall, Ho and the communists had some trouble making independence a reality. It was not until 30 years later that the North Vietnamese had managed to toss out the French and the Americans, defeat their rivals in the south of Vietnam, and establish a unified state. In any case, the Southern Gate (Ngọ Môn) pictured here was the principal ceremonial entrance to the Imperial Enclosure of the old Imperial City. Although restoration work is ongoing, the grounds and buildings inside are for the most part rather rundown, ironically giving the entire place a quietly muted grandeur. I was reminded of my first visit to the Temple of Heaven in Beijing in 1987, before all of the buildings had been restored and brightly painted, making the place look more like a movie set than the location used by Chinese emperors for imperial ceremonies. The Southern Gate has already been restored and its look and feel suggest that the Vietnamese may (thankfully) be a bit less “enthusiastic” than the Chinese in their approach to restoration.

 

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