Hầu Đồng : The Spirit Mediums of Viet Nam
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Hầu Đồng : The Spirit Mediums of Viet Nam is a photo book coffee-table in hard or soft cover format (standard landscape, 10×8 in, 25×20 cm), or in ebook format, with over 100 large color photographs and more than 60 pages of text, which explains the ancient Vietnamese syncretic religion of Đạo Mẫu, its rituals and its pantheon of deities, along with a narrative of my own experiences documenting it in Vietnam since late 2014.
Hầu Đồng (also known as Lên đồng) is one of the main rituals of Đạo Mẫu, and exemplifies the worship of mother goddesses in Vietnam. During these rituals, the mediums go into trances so their bodies can receive the spirits of various deities. The journey of the spirits into the bodies of the mediums is an incarnation, and the process involves the spirits briefly hovering then moving into the mediums. The mediums change their costumes to indicate which deity has entered their body.
Đạo Mẫu and its ritual, Hầu Đồng were prohibited by the French colonials and by the subsequent Socialist regime, but has been subtly encouraged since 2000 when it was officially considered as an ancient indigenous folk religion of Vietnam, and an important cultural heritage.
I am the only non-Vietnamese photographer to have photographed Hầu Đồng ceremonies in such depth.
In addition to the large color photographs and scholarly explanatory text, the book also features interviews with 7 prominent Vietnamese mediums-clairvoyants on their life stories, and on their spiritual connection with Đạo Mẫu deities.