Van Da, a drawing in ink

Vietnam, signed and dated, March 1965

'Improving one's hairdo appearance even in the battlefield'

Van Da (born 1928) joined the army in 1945 as part of the resistance against the French. He was with the army forty-three years, attaining the rank of colonel. While he was in the army he was sent to the Fine Arts College, Hanoi, graduating in 1963. He recorded daily events, often drawing military action as it occurred. He also drew aspects of daily life, including activities such as entertainment and education. This pen and ink sketch is embedded in the tradition of portraying life at base camp.

Morale is traditionally boosted in times of war by maintaining appearances. While this was clearly not possible on the front line, standards of hygiene were maintained in the camps. The universality of such images is striking. War artists from around the globe have created such images for many centuries.

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Van Da, a drawing in ink

© 2002 Van Da

  • Map of Vietnam

    Map of Vietnam


More information


J. Harrison-Hall, Vietnam Behind the Lines: Imag (London, British Museum Press, 2002)


Height: 275.000 mm
Width: 385.000 mm

Museum number

Asia OA 1999.6-30.020


Gift of the British Museum Friends


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