Photo: Flag shop on the streets of Hanoi.

Propaganda posters

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During the Vietnam War, propaganda posters were painted to help rally the troops and to raise spirits; the printing of them continued for about a decade after the end of the war. The visuals reflected the different styles and skills of the artists who painted them, but consistent themes were bold images, powerful messages and strong use of colour. They are increasingly recognised as works of art.

Not all so old.

Not all so old.

At the time of the war, paper and ink were in short supply and presses practically non-existent, so work was often painted or reproduced on buildings, trucks and trees. Originals are therefore rare, but picking up a reproduction is easy in Hanoi.

Ho Chi Minh features regularly.

Ho Chi Minh features regularly.

If you’re interesting in buying a propaganda poster, you’ll find two large shops on Hang Bac Street, in the centre of Old Quarter: Hanoi Gallery, at number 5, and Thanh Long Gallery opposite at number 16. Both have a wide range of posters in a variety of styles. Hanoi Gallery sells A3 size prints for US$3 and larger versions for $7, while the larger prints at Thanh Long are a dollar pricier. Thanh Long has a good selection of paintings as well, ranging from $15 to $35. These may not be original designs — they’re still copies — but they’re closer to the real thing than the prints.

Spoilt for choice.

Spoilt for choice.

Both shops also sell originals. Hanoi Gallery seemed reluctant to show us their collection and said they cost around $1,000 each, while Thanh Long had a selection for $300 each. One we saw was signed and dated 1974; unfortunately for the layperson gauging authenticity is difficult. All posters are provided with English translations.

Another shop worth a look is Art Salon at 3 Ta Hien, which has a smaller selection of painted replicas at 500,000 VND (around $25) and 800,000 VND.

Smaller versions are available.

Smaller versions are available.

All shops will roll the paintings and provide cardboard tubes for safe and easy transportation, but if you prefer not to carry them round with you it’s also possible to order online once you arrive home. It’ll cost you though with online sellers such as charging US$35 for what we assume is a large print. Shipping is free to a number of countries. If you’re particularly interested in propaganda posters, check out the Dogma Collection, which boasts more than 1,000 posters, offers about them and replicas.

Agriculture related images.

Agricultural themes are big.

The style of image used in these posters is still regularly seen around Vietnam today, both on posters related to war events and in public awareness campaigns, such as for health and safety issues.

An enduring style.

An enduring style.

Keep an eye out — they make for good photos.

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