Beautiful Vietnam
Folk pictures and paper flowers hot items for Tet
  • | | January 21, 2011 10:21 AM

Handicraft villages in Thua Thien, in the central province of Hue, are racing to make their traditional products for the holiday.

It takes a skilled artisan
Electric lotus
A students adding colours to paintings

These products are attracting more and more customers as the Lunar New Year nears.

In the 300-year old village there is a busy and exciting working atmosphere, as they set to work making their famous ceremonial paper flowers.

Every year in December, on the 9th and 10th on the lunar calendar, local artisans begin selecting their material. They split bamboo into small slices and then dye them into different colours. The slices are used as flower stems.

Paper flowers are very pretty and inexpensive. Each branch, including around 10 flowers, is sold for between VND2,500 (USD1.25) and VND3,000 (USD2). The lotus is relatively expensive, going for between VND7,000 (USD3.5) and VND10,000 (USD5) per branch. Some of these lotuses are designed to hold electric lights.

51-year old Nguyen Hoa, who has studied production of paper flowers for more than 30 years, said these flowers have attracted more customers in recent years. It is good for the community, he says, because it creates jobs for the village’s residents.

Not so long ago, people seemed to prefer plastic flowers from Thailand or China. But in recent years, the craft of paper flower making has undergone a revival in Thanh Tien. This is because of renewed appreciation of the art by customers.

One artisan in particular, Than Van Huy, had a large role in bringing this fading art back into the light. Recently, exporters have been making orders for the village’s special flowers, and foreigners visit to see the unique craft.

Folk art of Sinh Village

In the remaining months of the year, people in Sinh Village in Phu Vang Districts often busy themselves making ceremonial paintings.

Dinh Thi A, a 56-year old artisan, commented that, since the living conditions have improved here, people pay more attention to religious traditions.

Even students get involved, taking some of their time helping to add colour to Mrs. A’s painting to earn some extra Tet money.

Another craftsman, Ky Huu Phuoc said that this type of painting is important for religious purposes, and has gone on for a long time, dating back at least to the ancient capital in Hue. Unlike the paintings made elsewhere, the ones made in the village of Sinh are burned after worship.

Paintings from the village are sold in sets, and usually cost around VND50,000 (USD2.5) each. Green, red, yellow, orange and purple figure prominently in these crafts to symbolise the five basic elements: metal, wood, water, fire and earth.

Each family has its own secret to making their particular style of paintings, noted Phuoc. They use paper created not only from wood, but such materials as fruit, plants and even metal.