This vintage real photo postcard features two young Montagnard soldiers. They are uniformed, carrying rifles, and wearing ammunition belts. One of the soldiers has markings on his sleeves. I do not know the meaning of the design. Does it designate rank? Note that the men  are barefoot. The men are “Tirailleurs”, which means that they were used by the French army as infantry. They were recruited from French colonial territories during the 19th and 20th centuries. The photograph was taken in the province of Lao Cai. The province is located in northwest Vietnam and is known for it’s mountains, rivers, waterfalls, and ethnic hill tribes. These men are Montagnards. This ethnic group, also known as Degar, are indigenous to the central highlands of Vietnam. The translation of Montagnard (french) is “people of the mountain”. This postcard was published by P. Dieulefils of Hanoi, Vietnam. Pierre Dieulefils was the first established professional photographer in Hanoi. In addition, he was a postcard editor and explorer. He had an excellent reputation as a photographer throughout Europe and Indochina. He won many medals at Universal Exhibitions. It is estimated that he produced approximately five thousand photos and postcards and he is considered one of the greatest photographers of the region. His photographic expeditions included such locales as Vietnam, China, and Cambodia. The Cabinet Card Gallery has a nice collection of early Vietnam (Tonkin) postcards that can be viewed by putting the word “Vietnam” in the blog’s search box. This postcard is in very good condition.   (SOLD)



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This vintage real photo postcard presents us with a glimpse of history in southeast Asia during colonial times. The postcard features a group of soldiers; three are Vietnmese and one is French. The caption under the photograph describes the group of soldiers as a  “Groupe de Tirailleurs Tonkinois”. The Tirailleurs were soldiers comprising several regiments of local ethnic indochinese infantry organized by the French colonial authorities.The Tirailleurs were originally established in Vietnam in 1880. The regiment members in this photograph came from the noted “Tonkinese Rifles”. Initially these regiments were known to have problems with a high rate of desertion. Eventually, with French marine officers, the Vietnamese force became effective. They were positioned to occupy France’s indochinese possessions, These troops also served in Indochina, China (Boxer Rebellion), Russia (1918-1919), Syria (1920-1921), and Morroco (1925-1926). They also participated in World War I. In 1945, some regiments rebelled against the occupation of Vietnam by Japan. Despite a fierce resistance, the Tirailleurs were nearly annihilated. The illustration below shows a soldier from a regiment (Annamite Tirailleur) that fought alongside the “Tonkinese Rifles”. This postcard was published by R. Moreau (Hanoi) and is part of a series (no. 1138). The postcard was postmarked at Ninh Binh in 1905 and has a French stamp. Ninh Bình is a province in North Vietnam’s Red River Delta.  SOLD