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Vietnam Handicraft Villages

Vietnam Handicraft Villages

Bat trang ceramics village
Location: Bat Trang Pottery Village is located in the south east of Hanoi, passing Chuong Duong Bridge turns right and go about 10km along the dike of Red River. Bat Trang belongs to Bat Trang Commune, Gia LamDistrict, Hanoi. Characteristic: This is a pottery village with a half-millenary historic development
Some decades recently, the vitality of this village is still blown up by the thousands of pottery-kiln on fire day and night .
In the period about 12th - 14th century, there are a numbers of families in Bo Bat Pottery Village (in Thanh Hoa Province now). They were Bui, Phung, Tran and Vu families coming there to work pottery, selling it to people in city even doing business with foreigners. At first, it was called Bach Ho Group and when there are the thousands of pottery-kiln, it was called Bat Trang - the age of name is as approximately old as the age of group.

Who was the Bat Trang pottery ancestor? As a popular documentary he is Hua Vinh Kieu who gained a pupil scholar certificate under the reign of Ly. On the occasion of being sent to the north country under the Sung Dynasty ( China today) as King’s envoy, he learnt work and taught to people when he came back. He was regarded as the founder. But according to the "Dao Tuong Kinh Su Bi Ky" epitaph, Tran Hoe Doctor in Tu Chi built it. Quy duke, Nguyen Thanh Chau, in 1737. He was the founder. On the other theories, Luu Phuong was said to be the founder...

When it was seen on the Dai Viet administrative map, Bat Trang products were got the favor of people from the top citizen class in Thang Long to the poor peasant in country. Bat Trang family use items gone far abroad. From the early 15th century, China was the place with the tradition pottery work for the thousands of years and well known in the world but there were ever the tens of Bat Trang pottery sets in the tribute festival. Since then in every reign, in decline or prospect situations, Bat Trang Pottery Village still assured the worth of goods, kept position and passed every trial. It is proud of working, living, old origin in Bat Trang. In the Gia Lam proverb, there is a word: "living to be man in Bat Trang, dying to be tutelary spirit" that means it is very happy to be a man in Bat Trang because of the stable pottery work, big fortune. In Kieu Ki Village, there was a work of making Indian ink; material was the skin of buffalo. They had to kill buffalo and worship tutelary spirit so this tutelary was well off. Bat Trang likes a symbol of Vietnam traditional trade village.
It is a famous trade village, recently, there are over 6,000 people in 1,500 families with the total 153ha. The rate of pottery kiln in Bat Trang is the first rank at the other same villages in the world. Most men in Bat Trang follow the traditional work (nine of ten) except for person leaving home. After over an innovation decade, many traditional trade villages are recovered, the innovation and increase of Bat Trang Pottery Village are increasing unbelievably.

On the basic of tradition pottery technique, Bat Trang pottery workers have taken - abused-propagated greatly the progress of science technology into every stage in making pottery. It has made many types of top class pottery, that is useful and beautiful and it upgrades the sense of pottery art. The Bat Trang list of pottery getting high quality is longer more and more by day like bowl, dish, pot, cup, wine pot, a big flower-vase, leg lamp, lime-pot, big-bellied jar... It made by all sort of glazes as ancient pearl blaze, crackle glaze, dark glaze, indigo-blue flower glaze, grey flower glaze, melt glaze...
In 10/2004, Bat Trang Pottery Market was opened in the area of over 5.000m². It is not only the place to display and trade but also an interesting tourist site in Hanoi.

Folk paintings
Folk paintings are a combination of traditional cultural values with ancient artistic methods that have been created through the lab our of past generations. There are two types of Vietnamese folk paintings, Tet (Lunar New Year Festival) paintings and worshipping paintings.

The Vietnamese believe in ancestor worship and the deification of natural phenomena, both of which are reflected in the paintings.

Due to their historical popularity, the folk paintings were produced in large quantities. This high demand was met through the use of the woodblock carving printing technique, which has been practiced by the Vietnamese for many centuries. During the Ly Dynasty (12th century), there were many families who specialized in woodblock carving. By the end of the Tran Dynasty, they were also printing paper money. At the beginning of the Le So Dynasty, the Chinese technique of carving printing boards was adopted and improved. The History Museum and the Fine Art Museum in Hanoi still keep old printing boards as archives.
During the Mac Dynasty (16th century), folk paintings developed quite extensively and were popular among the aristocracy in Thang Long. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the art of folk painting was stable and highly developed.
Depending on artistic style, drawing-printing technique, and the materials used, folk paintings are classified into painting trends according to the name of their place of production.
Each style of painting is different. However, in all the styles, shapes are created based on the concept of don tuyen binh do (single line-simple designs), which uses lines to bend the coloured shapes and to make a border for the picture. Another method used is thuan tay hay mat (easy to draw and to see). With this design form, the folk paintings do not depend on the rules of perspective. The deities are large and take the upper positions, while the ordinary people are drawn on a smaller scale and the size of the animals and the natural scenery depicted depends on their relationship to the sentiment or story being expressed. These unique characteristics make the paintings profoundly impressive.
As a result of cultural exchange, Vietnamese folk paintings have retained and developed certain traditional aspects. As well, the paintings have been influenced and enriched by the genius of other painting styles. One exception is Dong Ho paintings, which continue to exist unchanged against the challenges of time.
Dong Ho Paintings
These paintings which originated in the Red River Delta, are the most famous. The artists coat do paper (the Rhamnoneuron paper) with diep powder (a white powder made from the shells of diep, a kind of fluvial bivalve mollusk) to make silver lustre glitter. Sometimes yellow flower powder called Hoa hoe or orange-red sapandwood powder is used to make the colours more elegant and shiny.

On that background, the colours are applied with a woodblock. Some of the paintings only have simple black lines, while others are printed with one other colour. All of the materials for creating the colours for these paintings come from nature. A wide spectrum of colours can be made using mixing and multi-coloured printing techniques.
Dong Ho paintings reflect people’s innermost feelings, wishes, and simple dreams. Because the paintings appeal to so many people, they are available throughout the country, from the village markets to the capital city.
Hang Trong Paintings

Hang Trong paintings are also printed with black lines to form the basis for the colour. But, unlike Dong Ho paintings, they are made by hand. Large sheets of imported paper and brightly coloured paints are used for Hang Trong paintings. The content of these paintings are very much influenced by Chinese drawings.
Hang Trong paintings are popular as worshipping paintings in temples. As such, the paintings are often hung in spacious living rooms or in holy places.
Hang Trong paintings have traditionally served the poorer classes and are made and sold in the capital city.
Kim Hoang Paintings
Kim Hoang paintings, which are often called red paintings, are made on the outskirts of ancient Thang Long. Kim Hoang paintings are printed and drawn on imported coloured paper (yellow, bright red, pink) and printed with black lines and shapes; other colours used to separate the shapes.

The colours are applied in rough, but flexible lines. Sometimes, the paintings are reprinted to create clear line. The colours used for Kim Hoang paintings are bought and then mixed by the painters, except for indigo, which is self-processed. The themes of Kim Hoang paintings are similar to those of the Dong Ho paintings, but there are also Chinese character paintings Phuc, Loc, Tho (meaning “Happiness”, “Good Luck”, and “Longevity” respectively), that have the typical flower of each season printed next to each character.
Sinh Village Paintings
Sinh Village Paintings, which come from Sinh Village, a suburb of Hue City, are well-known in the central region of Vietnam. Most Sinh Village paintings are used for worship, and they express the mystical, nature-based beliefs of the ancient Vietnamese.
Among these pictures is the Tuong Ba (Statue of the Lady) painting, the guardian angel of women. Sinh paintings are made using just one printing-board to create the drawing lines and black shapes. After being printed in black, the work is sometimes completed with embellishments made with colourful lines. Some paintings are still printed on rustic paper

Vietnam Handicrafts
In Vietnam, there are traditional handicrafts: ceramic, bamboo products, lacquer ware, mother-of-pearl inlaying...

Ceramics

There are many villages throughout the country that produce ceramics. Some of these villages include Phu Lang in Bac Ninh Province, Huong Canh in Vinh Phuc Province, Lo Chum in Thanh Hoa Province, Thanh Ha in Hoi An (Quang Nam Province), and Bien Hoa in Dong Nai Province.  

Bat Trang Ceramic Village (Hanoi) is very old. According to historical documents, products from this village were well known as far back as the 15th century.

Vietnamese ceramic is now well known in both the domestic and international markets. Traditional products include kitchen items and trays. The flower-patterned bowls of Bat Trang have been exported to Sweden, the cucumber pots to Russia, and the teapots to France.
Bamboo products
Bamboo and rattan (tre, may, and song) are abundant sources of material used by Vietnamese handicraftsmen. The advantages of these products are that they are light, durable, and termite resistant.
Bamboo and rattan products from Vietnam first appeared on the world market at a Paris fair in 1931. Since then, more than 200 items made from these materials are sold overseas. Among the most popular are baskets, flower pots, lampshades, and bookshelves.
Lacquer ware

Lacquerware is really typical to Vietnam, although it also exists in other Asian countries. It is said that the resin extracted from the trees in Phu Tho Province is the best one. As such, the lacquerware products made in Vietnam are very beautiful and durable.

As early as the 18th century, people in Nam Ngu District in Thang Long (Hanoi) specialised in making lacquerware products. In its early stages of development, lacquerware contained only four colours: black, red, yellow, and brown. However, due to improvements in technologies in later years, additional pigment colours were made, therein, creating a wider range of lacquer colours.

Currently, Vietnamese made lacquerware products are essential in both the domestic and foreign markets. The renowned products include wall paintings, flower vases, jewellery boxes, trays, chessboards, and folding screens.

Mother-of-pearl Inlaying

Craftsmen performing inlaying use different types of oyster shells and pearls, which offer a wide array of colours. This art form requires a lot of effort as the process of inlaying involves numerous stages, including designing, grinding, cutting, carving, chiseling, and polishing.

Inlaying is widely used in the furniture industry to make tables, desks, chairs, picture frames, and trays that portray various ancient tales. These tales are displayed as scenes of nature, such as birds, butterflies, lotus ponds, and banana trees.

The process of inlaying furniture has increased the value of wooden articles. According to legend, this handicraft originated in the Chuon Village in Ha Tay Province.

Stone sculpture

Most of the traditional sculptures are made in Danang Province, more specifically near Ngu Hanh Son Mountain located between Quan Khai and Hoa Khe villages.

Sculptors use marble to carve various articles of high value, including bracelets, ash-trays, Buddha statues, ornamental flowers, leaves and trees, and animal statues, such as cats and peacocks.

Embroidery

In the past, embroidery was mainly reserved for the benefit of the upper class, temples, and pagodas. The technique of this art form was rather simple, and it involved only five colours of thread: yellow, red, green, violet, and blue.

Presently, embroidered goods serve both useful and decorative purposes. New technologies have helped to produce new materials, such as white cloth, lampshades, and lace. As a result, the embroidery industry has developed and there is now a wide range of new products including pillowcases, bed sheets, and kimonos. The most skilled type of embroidery is the production of portraits, which requires using up to 60 different colours of thread.

It is believed that embroidery originated in Quat Dong Village in Ha Tay Province.

Jewellery

As soon as the 2nd century, the Vietnamese were using gold and silver to create jewellery. There are three different techniques used to make gold and silver jewellery, including intricate carving, casting, which is the process of melting metal and pouring it into flower, lead, or bird shaped moulds, and common processing, which is a process of polishing metal.

These three techniques can be combined to make intricate pieces of jewellery. Because of the flexibility of the raw materials, the colour of gold, and the brightness of silver, beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, trays, and cups are created.

It is said that gold work originated in Dinh Cong Village near Hanoi and that silver work originated in Dong Xam Village in Thai Binh Province.

Wood works

Since the 1980s, the production of fine wooden articles has experienced a strong revival. These works of art have been much sought after in both domestic and foreign markets. The most popular of these products are wooden statutes and sets of wooden chairs, cabinets, and beds.

Currently, there are many companies dealing in the production and sale of wooden items. Their skilled employees have produced many beautiful and highly appreciated products.

Copper Casting

Copper casting is one of the most famous and enduring traditional art forms of Vietnam. With the help of technology, several ancient copper items from all over the country have been preserved. Approximately 3,000 years ago, ancient Vietnamese discovered how to cast copper to make brass tools, weapons, and ornaments; therein, initiating the metal age. Some brass statues that have been preserved serve as proof of the blooming period of copper casting in Vietnam. In later years, pursuing their forefathers’ talents, handicraftsmen created many innovative brass products that suited the needs of society.

Some of the most famous copper pieces known today include a series of brass drums that were cast over centuries. As well, there are brass artefacts currently exhibited in Hue, such as a bronze kettle at the Imperial Palace (1659-1684), the bronze plaque of Thien Mu Pagoda (1677), the bell of Thien Mu Pagoda (1710), the Nine Cannons (1803-1804), and the Nine Dynastic Urns (1835-1837).

Today, only a few copper casting villages remain, such as Ngu Xa in Hanoi, the casting quarter near Hue, and Phuoc Kieu in Quang Nam

Flower villages around Hanoi
The area of Tay Ho, Quang Ba, Ngoc Ha, Huu Tiep, Dai Yen were the flower-growing land. Overtime, Hanoi has come into its times of modernization and industrialization. The traditional surrounding flower villages have been turning into "villages within the city".

Referring to the traditional flower villages in Hanoi, people speak the most of Ngoc Ha. It had become a flower village since the establishment of capital city. This village has developed continuously by the experience of history and time, and has always been considered as a big flower village supplying fresh flowers for Thang Long - Hanoi City and its vicinity. In 1954, there were in this village up to 500 households involved in planting flowers. Every morning, from the early time, the Ngoc Ha flower market was full of buyers and sellers, even coming from Vong Village (Dich Vong - Cau Giay District) with their tuberoses.

Due to the expansion of city and fast growth of population, the traditional flower villages like Ngoc Ha, Huu Tiep... are getting limited, the flowers-growing area remains only in small gardens between the buildings. Meanwhile, many new flower villages around the capital have been gradually set up and developing, such as Tay Tuu (Tu Liem District), Vinh Tuy (Thanh Tri District), Dong Anh township and Phu Thuong (Tay Ho District). The flower-growing area increases fast from 92ha in 1990 to over 500ha in 1999; specifically, increased by 22 times in Tu Liem District, 1.5 times in Thanh Tri District and 33 times in Dong Anh District. Among the rural districts, Tu Liem gets the highest income from flower planting compared to the other places in Hanoi (VND141 million per hectare in 1997).

Dam Village is the old name of Tay Tuu Commune (Tu Liem District); it is located 15km from the Hanoi center to the west. The village changed from rice cultivation into flower production since 1994. Presently, the flower-growing area of Dam Village comprises up to 100ha, accounting for 35 percent of its total sown area; and there are more than 1,000 households of the village, i.e. accounting for 40 percent of the total, are engaged in planting flowers. The local flower planters remember that they faced not-small difficulties when they started to change from rice into flowers, especially in terms of seeds. Beside the varieties of seasonal flowers, so familiar to the population of Hanoi like rose, yellow and white chrysanthemums, peony, violet ... they have tried to import many kinds of stranger flowers, such as queen, prince and princess chrysanthemums, marigold, Dalat rose, French rose,...

If there are more varieties of chrysanthemums in Dam Village, then there is a larger area devoted to growing roses in Vinh Tuy. The Vinh Tuy Village has an area of 100 mau (1 mau = 3,600m²) reserved for planting flowers, of which up to 55 mau for roses. Roses are grown everywhere, in gardens and on fields. For this purpose, each household has at least tens square meters or a whole plot. In the recent time, the local rose planters have mainly worked with varieties of Dalat roses; but now there are more than tens of new varieties coming with tourists to Vietnam.

The quality of flowers grown in villages around Hanoi is getting higher. A short time ago, flowers sold in Hanoi shops were mainly provided from Dalat and foreign countries; but now the shopkeepers also try to take flowers right in Hanoi.

It is clear that the demand on fresh flowers in Hanoi is more and more high. It is just the setting-up and development of new flower villages surrounding the city that helps meet partly this demand. However, the planters have to try to create new varieties of nice and unique flowers along with the familiar varieties like chrysanthemums and roses

Phu Cam Conical Hat Village
ageHat-making village Phu Cam (also Phuoc Vinh) lies on the southern bank of the An Cuu River in the centre of the former imperial capital of Hue. Its a village famous for its traditional way of making conical hats for hundreds of years.

Phu Cam-made hats look graceful, soft and thin as silk. Hue landscapes or even poems can be seen clearly through the hats in the sunshine. It takes woman much time to make the frame and iron leaves before young girls start sewing. The beauty and grace of a hat depend much on the frame(made of 16 brims from the hem to the top). Artisans use sharp knives to prepare the brims and make the frame that needs skills, techniques and experiences, as well as mathematical calculations which have been handed down for generations.

Leaves to make hat play a vital part, leaves have to be blue-white, neither too young nor too old. Collected leaves are to be put to dry in the sun, put to be moistened by dewdrops, and then to be ironed flat on a steel- plank above a kiln, cleaned with a towel. After all this, leaves are cut to fit the frame.

How to arrange the leaves on to the frame is not easy. Each hat needs 50 leaves and between the leaves are coloured papers with pictures or paintings of landscapes, or even poems. Hat-makers are hardworking and careful and diligent. Hats are served with silk-threads and the chin-straps are made of colored silk (black, white, yellowish, purple, violet...) to harmonize with Hue climate and beauty.

Poem-hat is a distinctive feature of culture in Hue. Locals say they like to do the job not only to earn money but to preserve their age-old tradition as poem-hats have been absorbed into folk music and songs. Today hat are still used by young girls to shade their heads in the sun and to make them look more graceful in the traditional Ao Dai (long dress).

Vietnamese Silk
Van Phuc is situated on the bank of Nhue River, 10km from Hanoi on the southwest motorway. The village is in the centre of Ha Dong Town, Ha Tay Province, and the biggest silk production village in Vietnam. The sound of looms has filled Van Phuc for a thousand years, and is a touching sound to villagers when returning from far away.

The main road is surrounded by greenery and ponds, and colourful bolts of silk drying on the road. In fact, the villages fine silk, commonly known as Ha Dong Silk, has inspired many poets and composers to write about its beauty.

The village is busy with activity and one can hear the sound of the newer power-looms in every home. The days of working strenuously with traditional, manual looms are gone, and the villages weavers each operate three large power-looms with a small electric motor.

Design of Ha Dong silk patterns has been computerized, which allows designers to reduce working time from 20 days to a just three days per pattern.

Following stories of Van Phuc artisans, the first Vietnamese silk maker was Princess Hoang Phu Thieu Hoa, also known as Mo Nham. Daughter of King Hung Dinh Vuong - King of the first Dynasty of Vietnam - she lived over 3000 years ago.

Thieu Hoa liked weaving, and she often travelled outside the palace to teach people to farm silkworms and the fine art of weaving. When Thieu Hoa reached the age to marry, her father wanted to marry her to a teacher. Thieu Hoa asked the King to delay the wedding and moved to Co Sat village to live, and there she taught people to weave while she worked as a farmer.

As a 32-year-old, she travelled the country to teach the arts of silk in more than 60 villages. She then returned to Co Sat, where she lived out her days.

The most famous Van Phuc product is lua van, van means cloud in Chinese, since lua van billows like a cloud. The village artisans drew the idea to make lua van from flowers and the clouds the jet over bamboo thickets in the summer sky. Producing lua van is a demonstration of the skill of a silk weaver.

Van Phuc, now has 730 households with 1,600 people earning a living by weaving silk. The village stocks a wide variety of silk products, and ships goods all over Vietnam, as well as exported overseas.

Customers can buy silk suited to their wallet. Fabric made of 50% silk sells for an average of VND20,000 per meter, 75% silk for VND50,000, while 100% silk is priced depending on the quality of pattern and fabric thickness.

Statistics show that 785 of all 1,343 households in Van Phuc commune take part in the craft. Silk sales generate about VND27bil and make up 63% of the communes economy each year.

Given that each power-loom generates one weaving job (not including supplementary jobs such as spinning, dyeing and yarn joining), the craft village can create more than 1,000 jobs each year.

Fan makers
Fans made of paper, silk, and wood are a cultural feature only found in Asia.
The fans symbolize the grace and reserved character of women, and the elegance and strength of men. They are also a means of showing love between couples and have played an important role in poetry, songs, plays and Vietnamese daily life for thousands of years.
Furthermore, these decorative products are now exported to Japan. Great Britain, and France. Trang Son Village in Thach That district, Ha Tay province (30 kilometers from Hanoi to the North West), specializes in making some of the most famous fans lor nearly one thousand years. When using Trang Son Villages fans tourists are offered a unique opportunity to understand Vietnamese peoples culture, simple but profound.
The craftsmen of the village moved to Hanoi in the eighteenth century to form the famous Hang Quat street (fan makers and sellers) which sadly is no longer where these fans are made today.

The gourd life
What can make music, hold water and inspire dozens or legends in Vietnams Central Highlands, the gourd is a godsend.
The myth
The bottle-gourd is among the first plants to have been cultivated in Southeast Asia. Many ethnic groups in the region recount myths that tell o humankinds rebirth from a magic gourd, following a great flood that covered the world. While this myth is absent among the minority peoples of Vietnams Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands), the bottle-gourd plays an important role in the lives of many Highlanders.
The gourds used to make jars are bitter ones, different from the varieties that are eaten. According to a Sedang legend, there once lived a woman named Lady Cora, who was ordered to gather all of the edible gourds in the world. At that time, the earth was covered in gourds, and the lady was furious at having been assigned such a time-consuming task. She spread her breast milk on the young gourds and cursed them, after which they became too bitter to eat.
Using gourd
A bottle-gourd is shaped like two balls, a smaller one sitting atop of a larger one. When selecting gourds, people choose ones with symmetrical shapes.
In the Tay Nguyen, it is the women who sow the gourd seeds in mountain fields and process the hardened shells. When the gourds are ripe, they discard the seeds and pulp and dry the shells, which are then soaked in water. Soot and mud are rubbed onto the shells to darken them. After this, the women rub the shells with special leaves and bark. Once or twice a day for several days they polish the gourds, creating a shiny black finish that is extraordinarily durable.
Once processed, the gourds have many uses. Many traditional musical instruments employ bottle-gourds as resonators, including the brook and brang lutes of the Sedang, the goong lute and ding buot klut flute of the Ede, and the kmboat mouth organ and bre flute of the Ma. Some instruments have two gourd resonators, such as the ting ning lute of the Bahnar.
On a more practical level, bottle-gourds make fine containers. They are commonly used to store seeds, tobacco, rice, wine, and water. The Sedang of Kon Turn province claim that Highlanders once survived largely on gourds. According to legend, some wild forest dogs became tangled in the vines and urinated over the gourds, causing the gourds to become inedible.
In the Tay Nguyen, women are responsible for collecting water, whether from springs, mountain streams, or bamboo aqueducts. Every morning and evening the women carry their bottle-gourds to a water source. Each person also has his or her own water flask, carried on outings into the forest or to the swidden fields.
Flasks made from bottle-gourds are light, durable and able to keep water cool. While some highlanders use lo o bamboo tubes to store water for cooking and cleaning, drinking water is kept in gourds.
According to highland beliefs, there is a strong connection between women and gourds. The wooden statues around tomb houses in Giarai and Bahnar cemeteries include depictions of women (never men) holding water-gourds.
According to an Ede legend, there once lived a young man named Y Wing, who created the first ding nam mouth organ from six bamboo tubes, a gourd and some beeswax. Y Wing explained that the six bamboo tubes are siblings, while the gourd and the beeswax are mother and father.
The gourd hold the essence of traditional highland life
For people living in Vietnams remote Central Highlands, the bottle-gourd is both a useful object and a cultural symbol. While some highland communities now use vessels of glass and plastic, the gourd has not yet been replaced. Along with their mundane uses, these gourds hold the essence of traditional highland life.

Old - style Thanh Ha Ceramics
Located next to the ancient quarter of Hoi An, the Thanh Ha ceramic village has been in existence for a long time. The village is famous for its traditional ceramic products.
In the 1990s, the village was a different kind of place and plastic and aluminum products were the rule. During those years ceramic making was not happening in the village. In recent years, the tourism in Hoi An has taken off, and some families in Thanh Ha village dug back into their history and brought traditional ceramics back to life. Besides making ceramic ware for the everyday needs of the common man, the villagers are also turning out souvenirs to sell to the tourists. They are doing well with childrens toys, lampshades, and indoor decorative items.
By the end of 2004, the craft was pretty much in full swing in Thanh Ha. The village began receiving orders from the new big hotels in Hoi An. But, to get a firm market position for the ceramic products, the local administration still has a few things to do.
In early 2005, the Industry Department of Quang Nam province carried out a pilot project to build a new-technology kiln that promises to consume less fuel and produce higher quality ceramics. The kiln is there but it sits idle because no one knows how to use it.
In the tourism development plan of Hoi An, Thanh Ha is mentioned as one of the places that needs investment in ecological tourism. Just because of its location next to the Hoi An ancient quarter, Thanh Ha has a better chance than some other traditional villages in Quang Nam province such as the Tra Que vegetable village, the Kim Bong carpentry village, and the Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village. However, visitors to Thanh Ha may be a bit disappointed when seeing the narrow range and unimaginative design of its ceramic products.
A member of Hoi Ans leadership, Nguyen Su, says, "We plan to invest in developing a number of craft villages surrounding Hoi An, including Thanh Ha. That is a very costly proposition. A happy fact is that the simple ceramics made by the Thanh Ha villagers are being bought by the tourists because of their honest and simple designs."
Nevertheless, it’s true that Thanh Ha villages ceramic products are made in the old way and cannot compete with the mass-producers in terms of commercial appeal, mass sales and uniformity. Their inability to obtain a proportionately higher price has a direct influence on the lives of the people.
"Each ceramic kiln in Thanh Ha village can hold two large boats of clay. And it takes more than 20 days to make finished ceramic products for which we can get just VND3-4 million. A gas-fired kiln of the same capacity in Bat Trang village can make products for which they can get tens of millions of dong or even VND100 million in just one week," Mr. Tuan says. One cannot compete commercially when making ceramics by old methods.
Hopefully, Quang Nam province, Hoi An and Thanh Ha will find a way to market the peculiar and valued ceramics of Thanh Ha village so that the potters can thrive and the craft can continue.

Old Glowing Lantern of Ancient Hoi An
The tradition to decorate the ancient town in Hoi An with multi-colored lanterns, which started three centuries ago, is still continued today on the fourteenth night of each lunar month in this small town in central Vietnam.
The history of the lanterns
In the past, Vietnamese people often put oil lamps in decorative spherical and hexagonal lantern shades, which were hung in the eaves and both sides of the door in the Chinese style. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Faifo (the name of Hoi Ans ancient town at that time) was bustling with foreign merchants from the Netherlands, India, and Japan around the clock. Japanese merchants often hung tube and canari-shaped lanterns along the poles in front of their houses, which lit up the whole commercial quarters at night with a glowing, mysterious light. Locals began hanging lanterns out as well, with hopes for bringing good luck and coziness to the town.
The decision to bring out the lanterns again in the autumn of 1998, however, was an unexpected success. Authorities of Hoi Ans ancient town chose the fourteenth night of each lunar month for a night of lantern festivities. On that night, most lights in houses and shops in the ancient town are turned off for the night and replaced with lanterns to light up their narrow streets and alleyways.
This year included a Vietnam-Japan cultural festival in Hoi Ans ancient town, where Japanese visitors showed off their famous art of paper lanterns. Local residents also had a chance to show their own multi-colored lanterns of many sizes made by experienced artisans, including large, unique lanterns made of rare woods with sophisticated designs and embellished with valuable works of art on each side. Those large, old-fashioned lanterns are now family treasures used only on the night of lanterns. Although lanterns are often lit up with ordinary light bulbs today, their soft light gives a hint of what romantic nights were like long ago.
Establishing a trademark for Hoi Ans lanterns
For many years, traditional colored lanterns have enchanted visitors to Hoi An, particularly foreign visitors. Every year, tens of thousands of Hoi An lanterns are exported or bought by foreign visitors as souvenirs and gifts. As a cultural and tourist product, the lanterns have helped raise incomes of Hoi Ans residents.
Hoping to cash in on the lanterns, several other areas have recently started to turn out so-called Hoi An lanterns. The low quality of these imitations, however, has harmed the reputation of traditional Hoi An lanterns, which has led long-time lantern makers to encourage local authorities to develop a specific trademark for Hoi An lanterns to preserve the beauty of the towns long-lasting lanterns.
Nguyen Su, chairman of the Hoi An Town Peoples Council and deputy party secretary, says the Peoples Council has presented a resolution on developing the Hoi An lantern trademark, while the Quang Nam Province Peoples Committee was asked to register collective protection of a Hoi An lantern trademark.
In the immediate future, the Hoi An Town Peoples Committee named the Planning and Investment Department as project coordinator and developer. All lantern makers in the area can register for collective Hoi An lantern trademark protection, provided their products meet the required quality standards. Products meeting these standards can carry the words Hoi An and the emblem of the Cau Pagoda. Only then will lanterns be sold to the customers or be exported to other countries, which will establish a better reputation for Hoi An lanterns abroad.
Hoi An ancient town now has many shops selling a variety of lanterns, which are often red, yellow, or green depending on the surrounding fabric. Prices range from several ten to hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese dong depending on the size, colors, and quality of the surrounding fabric. Tang Ngoc Thu, owner of the Ngoc Thu Lantern Workshop, says, "Our products are sold at a wide range of prices to fit the budget of all customers. Our goal is to increase the popularity of Hoi An lanterns among domestic and foreign visitors."
Presently, Ngoc Thu is one of several enterprises producing lanterns with metal frames for both indoor and outdoor decoration, which have been exported to France, Germany, the US, and Australia. The products have also been showcased in fairs and exhibitions in Da Nang, Hue, and other domestic locations. Last year, a Hollywood studio placed an order with Ngoc Thu for 300 big lanterns to use in scenes in its films. The lanterns have also been written about in foreign journals.
Hoi An lanterns carry distinctive cultural values of the town that can help present one of Vietnams cultural heritage sites, Hoi An ancient town, to the outside world, while high-quality will ensure a better standard of living for residents.

When To Travel To Vietnam

Good time to Travel in Vietnam is from September to June. However, Vietnam has three different regions – the North, the Central and the South – each with different weather patterns and different rainy seasons. This means that there is neither a best time nor a worst time to visit Vietnam. Hot summer or Cold winter is not that a big deal. Nice beaches such as Halong bay, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Mui Ne - Phan Thiet or Phu Quoc Island are always available; Sapa and Dalat highlands offer great places for cool temperature. You can find your favourite kind of weather all year round for your next Vietnam Tours!

 

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