British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 390.000 mm
Width: 540.000 mm
Gift of the
Asia OA 1999.6-30.026
Quang Tho, a painting in gouache
Vietnam, signed and dated, 1969
The Ho Chi Minh trail
During the American-Vietnam War (1965-75) the North Vietnamese army entered South Vietnam via trails which passed through the Truong Son mountains, eastern and southern Laos and Cambodia. These were collectively known in the West as the 'Ho Chi Minh trail' and in Vietnamese as 'Duong Truong Son'.
As fighting in Vietnam escalated, Laos was increasingly drawn into the war and its territorial integrity violated by both the American and the Vietnamese armies. Most supplies to Vietnamese troops had to be transported by men on foot or bicycle through forest paths along the trail. This painting shows soldiers pushing heavily laden bicycles with supplies up a path reinforced with bamboo matting. On the reverse is another painting of soldiers carrying weapons and walking along the Ho Chi Minh trail.
Quang Tho (1929-2001) enlisted in the army in 1945 to fight against the French and began to record events through his drawings. In 1955 he was sent by the army to the Fine Arts College, Hanoi, graduating in 1963. From 1963 to 1975 he continued to serve with the army during the war against America, achieving the rank of colonel. He served in some of the most dangerous places, often drawing while he was actually under fire or being bombed.
J. Harrison-Hall, Vietnam Behind the Lines: Imag (London, British Museum Press, 2002)