Sunday, 2 August 2015

Nguyễn Vi | The Fortune Teller

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
Ms. Nguyễn Vi is a Cô Đồng, a fortune teller....a medium and a Hầu Đồng practitioner.

Followers of this blog know of my ongoing project in Hanoi, which aims at documenting practitioners of the Đạo Mẫu religion, also known as the worship of Mother Goddesses in Vietnam. This project has also opened doors to various ancillary documentary possibilities that I could not have envisaged when I first got started.

One of these 'sub-projects' is the documenting the life story of Ms. Nguyễn Vi, who is not only an active Hầu Đồng practitioner and a medium, but also is a psychic, a clairvoyant and a fortune teller. She tells me that her innate insight into people's futures helps them in their lives. As with many Vietnamese Buddhists, Vi embraces its teachings on compassion and altruism.

I already started documenting Vi's life story last month when she graciously invited me to her family home in Hanoi. It is there that she worships, actively follows her belief system, and deploys her fortune telling skills. In our conversations, it was evident she hasn't had an easy life, and had suffered a number of personal setbacks over the past years until finding her calling in the Đạo Mẫu religion.

A stylish young woman with a sense of dramatic flair, she has worked as a photographer and a graphic artist...but discarded her career to obey a spiritual calling. Her favorite incarnation during her Hầu Đồng performances is Chúa Cà Phê (Princess Coffee) of Lang Son province, and one of the many ladies-in-waiting of the Mother Goddesses.

It is in this incarnation of Chúa Cà Phê that she agreed to pose for me in a photographic studio near her home.

Photo ©Tewfic El-Sawy-All Rights Reserved
I am hoping to complete the production of a multimedia photo essay on Ms Nguyễn Vi in the coming few months.

The above photographs were made using a Fujinon XF16-55mm F2.8 on a Fuji X-T1.