Tuesday, 27 October 2020

The Spirit Medium And The Model

Photo © Tewfic El-Sawy | All Rights Reserved

It's been 4 years -almost to the day- when I was traveling to Hanoi on my Hau Dong: Spirit Mediums of Vietnam photo book tour, and memories of these wonderful two weeks are unexpectedly flooding in. 

Perhaps it's because of the imminent US Presidential Election that reignited these memories, since I was there in 2016 when the current White House occupant was elected. I recall having breakfast at the Golden Silk hotel that morning when CNN  announced the news much to the stunned shock of all those present. 

However, setting aside politics, I think it's the passage of 4 years compounded by the current travel impossibility due to COVID19 that is the cause for this nostalgia.

So as an antidote, I write this post about Linh Trần (whom I often call Lotus); one of the very best Hầu Đồng spirit mediums in Vietnam and who added to her popularity by being featured in Morgan Freeman's The Story of God Netflix series. She also figures prominently in my photo book, in which she was interviewed at length as to her path within the Đạo Mẫu religious faith and practices.

Extremely photogenic and with considerable presence, Linh Trần's incarnations as the various deities that populate the Đạo Mẫu religion during her ceremonies were always charismatic and understandably very popular, which led to her having many faithful and loyal followers. I recall her willingness in being photographed following our one-on-one interviews in a studio near her home, and my telling her -despite her scoffing- she ought to have a parallel career as an urban fashion model. 

We naturally kept in contact throughout the intervening years, and it's only recently that I saw photographs of her modeling her own colorful and idiosyncratic clothes in various parts of Hanoi. I am certain she isn't doing it professionally, but I'm glad she possibly heeded my (and others?) advice, even though it took her much of these 4 years to get there. In the above photograph by Nguyen Tra Mi, Lotus is holding her Tây Bắc jacket; indigenous to the region in the north of Vietnam.

Perhaps her next step would be to become an influencer on the youth-oriented social platforms such as Tik-Tok and Instagram? Her being schooled as a graphic designer certainly gives her an edge, and she should pursue that path if it appeals to her.

Libin & Bianca @ NYU

Bianca (on the left) has been featured on my blog a few times already, and with the advent of summer-like weather in NYC, she and friends ha...