In the small rice-farming village in Vietnam where I grew up, every household had an altar. On each altar there would often be an incense bowl spilling with ash, an offering of tea and fruit, and a black-and-white portrait of a deceased grandparent.

On death anniversaries and Lunar New Year celebrations the altar would be cleaned and the incense bowl replenished with new rice. Offerings of fruit, cakes, tea, wine and paper money would be placed on the altar for the ancestor spirits to enjoy in the afterlife.

As children we were told the spirits of the ancestors are always with us and looking after us.

This photo essay was inspired by the portraits of deceased ancestors that can be found on the altars of most Vietnamese and Chinese households.















Thuy Vy is a photographer from Melbourne

May 20, 2019