Designs in use during the war years for ao dai, the Vietnamese traditional costume, are being showcased in an exhibition at the HCM City War Remnants Museum.

The Vietnamese Women through Wars exhibit includes 125 photos, documents and objects related to the costume and to women's lives during the war.

Huynh Ngoc Van, director of the museum, said the exhibition aimed to introduce the beauty of ao dai and its convenience as well as its use by female soldiers and Vietnamese women in activities to protect the country.

She said it was also hoped that the exhibit would send a message to the public to preserve and promote the costume.

On display are ao dai worn by women prisoners, politicians, soldiers, and students, including Truong My Le and Nguyen Thi Phi Van who took part in various movements of the Sai Gon - Gia Dinh Union beginning in 1960.

The exhibition also includes photos of students in ao dai taking part in parades against wars in Sai Gon, now Ho Chi Minh City, in the 1960s and 1970s.

Various exhibits, such as poems on ao dai and sewing machines for making costumes for the soldiers are on display as well.

During the exhibition, there are seminars and discussions of ao dai in old and modern times, and the role of the costume in political movements in Sai Gon.

The exhibition, opened yesterday by the museum, the Cultural Heritage Association of HCM City and the Si Hoang Trading Service Company, celebrates the Vietnam Heritage Day.

The exhibition closes on December 17.-VNA