You may not agree with the message behind it, but you cannot deny the visual aesthetic of Vietnamese communist propaganda art. While they are still used today to spread educational messages and promote love, to most, they are works of art. Here are places in Hanoi where you can buy some communist kitsch to decorate your shelves and walls at home.
Generally, most markets and souvenir shops have some sort of propaganda art — be it little trinkets such as keychains and coasters, or something a little bit bigger like Uncle Ho coffee mugs and Chairman Mao alarm clocks. Just a quick stroll down the Old Quarter or a visit to Dong Xuan Market and you are bound to come across a few items here and there.
If you want some proper posters to fill up your walls that give subtle messages to anyone who visits your home, then you can drop by one of the few stores specialising in communist propaganda posters mentioned below. Most work being sold are fantastic reproductions of the originals. If you wish to get your hands on original pieces, you can, but these are rare and undoubtedly come at hefty prices.
Old Propaganda Posters
Old Propaganda Posters sells, well, old propaganda posters. There are hundreds of them, stacked on tables, 50 deep separated by cover sheets. Most of them are from the Vietnamese War and some are from the French colonial times. The old lady who runs the shop may well have lived through both. She doesn’t at all mind you casually browsing through the posters, which were once taken very seriously. Flicking through these will conjure up a sobering picture of the Vietnamese’s struggle for survival and independence. Many of the artwork are striking, with their Soviet style and colours, and strong messages behind them. With each only costing a few dollars each, you can buy more than a few. They will make great gifts for your comrades back home.
Thang Long Gallery
Thang Long Gallery also houses a really good selection of old propaganda posters. Here you can get your hands on originals, but expect to pay prices in the four-figure range – US Dollars of course, not Vietnamese Dong. For reprints, prices range from USD$3.00-10.00, based on the size of the print – the largest being around a standard 24” x 36” poster size. Buy them in bulk and you may get a discount. You will get them rolled up in cardboard tubes for safe and easy transport back home. For an idea of what they have in stock, check out their Facebook page in advance.
The Hanoi Gallery
If you haven’t had enough of browsing through communist propaganda posters, stop by The Hanoi Gallery as well. The owners of this shop speak great English and will happily tell any curious soul the stories, meanings and messages behind each artwork. If posters are out of your budget, there are small card-sized reproductions available. A small poster of a Vietcong soldier sells for around USD$5.00, while a larger portrait of former US president Richard Nixon as a Godzilla-like monster will be around USD$20.00.
Vietnamese Propaganda Art Posters Shop
If you cannot get to Hanoi and would prefer to shop for propaganda posters online, check out Vietnamese Propaganda Art Posters Shop. All of their reproductions are handmade in Hanoi by expert painters and printed on rice paper. Their website displays all the posters they have in stock at the moment. You can pay through cryptocurrency as well and there is free shipping to any destination in the world, regardless of the quantities purchased.