(No.2, Vol.7,Apr-May 2017 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)
Artisan creating terracotta vase.
Show combining ao dai and kites.
Craft of paper lotus flower making.
The former imperial city of Hue is finalising its preparations for an event honouring craftsmanship of Vietnamese artisans around the country in an event that it has named the Hue Festival of Craft Villages.
The event will kick off the 28th this month and wrap up 2 May. The event’s organizers expected weekend days and holidays will offer more time lapse for visitors to enjoy various craft performances and exhibitions of quintessential handmade products. In a spacious area in the city, artisans will gather with their tools and materials available for performances. The artisans are also ready to guide visitors with craft techniques and make products have chance to take the items home.
The craft techniques included are legacy of old villages around the country and prominent craft communities in Hue as well.
Duong Van Kinh, a member of the organizers said this year’s event will have the presence of many crafts and villages that have been believed died out in modern society.
A long time ago, many women could make conical hats for their own needs but social development has diversified careers, making the palm-leaf a specialized craft of certain villages in the country. Despite having same shape, conical hats made by women in different regions have different styles that convey their own sense of aestheticism of the region. Hue hats always look better compared to others and they have their signature style.
Hue artisans are skillful to add transcription of poems under the leaf layers and those poems can be read under sunlight. At the event, visitors get a chance to enjoy and talk to the skillful artisans, including those from My Lam Village, a well-known for conical hat-making in Hue.
Bamboo and rattan knitting also create a handmade signature for Hue, with Bao La village as a prominent representative. The village has transformed its from supplying farming tools to manufacturing furniture and decoration items.
At the event, the village artisans will bring 2,000 product items for five days of performances and exhibitions of bamboo lamps, tea pot trays, chairs and table sets, lanterns, and decoration pieces made with rattan. Hue was once the land of kings and royal demands for handmade products were always high, especially for clothing. Embroidery was part of those needs and so the former imperial city has many families with embroidering tradition. The families have kept transferring the craft from generation to generation. At this event, 200 embroidery shops and facilities around the city will gather to make a festive day showing the quintessential skills and outstanding products.
Nguyen Thi Doan Trang, director of an embroidery business registered under her name, said she has 15 embroidery ao dai sets reproducing kings’ costumes and these will amaze audiences thanks to their unique beauty.
Villages with handmade traditions from all over the country will join. Bat Trang pottery and terracotta are the prominent representatives from the northern region. Meanwhile, the ethnic H’re in central Quang Ngai Province will present their own fabric and southern Vinh Long Province is going to introduce their crafts of brick baking and mat knitting from mosquito fern plants.
Craft villages of paper paintings, lantern-making, paper flower-making, bronze casting and mat knitting will join the event, showcasing their craft skills and products.
The highlight of the event is sure to be the ao dai fashion show proposed to take place on the city’s iconic Truong Tien Bridge. The collection of ao dai showcases efforts of different artists, from clothing designers to artists and their family members.
According to designer Minh Hanh, who chairs the show, the ao dai will have copies of paintings by 20 famous artists, including late artists Ton That Dao, Buu Chi and Dinh Cuong. This is the first time after 15 years an ao dai show will take place on the bridge and this delights locals a lot.
On the sidelines, a food and beverage festival will take place during the 5-day event, offering locals and visitors wide range of specialties from localities around the country.
The event’s organizers expected visitors and audiences will take this chance to enjoy a banquet of craftsmanship in the beautiful city.