Portrait of Ms Ca

This is Ms Ca. Born sometime in the 1930s (she can’t remember the exact year), I met her sitting in the shade of a cashew tree, sheltering from the midday sun. She was taking a rest, having carried a 25 kilogram woven bamboo basket on her back, loaded with freshly picked leaves, from the forest.

Portrait of Ms Ca, VietnamMs Ca, whom I met sitting under a cashew tree in Binh Thuan Province

Despite her weathered appearance – the crease lines on her face indicating a lifetime spent squinting in the southern sun – her voice was mellow and smooth, and her manner easy and polite. Ms Ca (a name I’d never heard before), has lived in this dry, sparsely populated and, to my eyes, very beautiful, part of Binh Thuan Province all her life. Her home lay at the foot of an arid hillside in the distance.

Ms Ca's house, Binh Thuan Province, VietnamMs Ca’s home, at the foot of an arid hillside near where we met

Each of her parents came from a different one of Vietnam’s ethnic minority groups, neither of which I recognized. The leaves she was carrying are used for pig and goat feed, of which a small herd of the latter sat with her under the tree.

Herd of goats accompanying Ms Ca, VietnamA herd of goats cross the river, following behind Ms Ca

Tied around her waist was a small, plastic bottle of  clear, rice liquor, which she washed back before walking barefoot to bathe in the river. After returning refreshed, Ms Ca continued on her way, with her basket of leaves on her back and goats following behind.

The river where I met Ms Ca, VietnamAfter a refreshing dip in this river, Ms Ca continued on her way


        •  Bac Ha Sunday Market 

        •  Ho Citadel 

        •  Hoi An Lantern Festival 

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3 Responses to Portrait of Ms Ca

  1. […] But then, as streams and rivers begin to trickle off the lower slopes of the Central Highlands, the colour creeps back into the landscape. Mango and cashew trees line the river banks, goats follow lonely shepherds across streams, and mud brick homes – held together with a mixture of straw and concrete with corrugated iron roofs – dot the hillsides. The colours are muted, washed out under the southern sun; the kind of pastel tones you see in Cezanne’s paintings of southern France. Much of this region was once part of Panduranga, the last great centre of the Kingdom of Champa. Although the area is sparsely populated, many Cham people still live here, as do several other minority groups related to the Cham. The pace of life is slow here and people working in the fields are hospitable: this is where I met the octogenarian farmer, Ms Ca. […]

  2. Stuart says:

    Nice article. Keep them coming!

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