Hue City creates festive time for craft products ahead May Day

(No.2, Vol.9,Apr-May 2019 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)

The former imperial capital city of Hue will hold a festival to honour Vietnamese craftsmanship during the holidays of Vietnam’s Reunification Day and May Day.
This year’s Hue Craft Village Festival takes place from April 26 to the 2nd of May, featuring craft performances, craft product exhibition, parades and honouring and entertaining events. About 3,000 artisans and workers representing 63 craft villages and workshops around the country participated in the biennial festival.
The event is also to foster co-operation in craft production and trade between Vietnamese villages as well as craft artisans from other countries. They will present major crafts from the country including knitting of mats, paper paintings, lantern making, paper flowers, glass paintings, bronze casting, kite making, embroidery, and traditional weaving.
The five-day festival will attract the participation of craft presenters from Asian countries that are well-known for their craftsmanship, including Japan and South Korea. They are artisans and craft producers of Hanji paper, Hanbok costumes, Yugi bronzeware, and Japanese traditional paper, pottery and woodern items.
The biennial craft event thus has been appraised for the fostering of friendship and cooperation between the city of Hue and others globally. This year’s festival was the eighth one of its type organised in the city. The first was held in 2005 and the following continued after two years.
The festival will showcase more than 2,000 products made of bamboo, clay, wood, metals, rattan and ceramic for daily use needs, furnituring, cooking use, wearing or ornamental purposes.
Those craft items are put on display in stalls named Lotus ambiance, Silk area, Ao dai space, Herbal medicine corner, Calligrahy, lantern and kite square, Cell for Japanese and Korean craft, and Hall for honouring artisans and craft villages. Visitors to the festival will also get chance to taste different kinds of food served at a gastronomy fair.
The festival offers the added feature of instant training sessions by skilful and experienced artisans for those interested in learning to make the craft items.
This year’s festival will adopt a traditional type of fabric made by K’ho and Chau Ma, the two ethnic minorities living in the Central Highlands, as one of the prominent craft products to showcase.
The fabric is woven and painted by local natural materials. Colours on the fabric are said to resist fading and be safe to wash with other clothes, 
The fabric is popular for home and costume products, such as blankets, dresses, ethnic-style skirts, handbags, and decoration items. The fabric is part of the soul and sentiment of K’ho and Chau Ma women.
This eighth version of the festival will also manage to bring its audiences the beverage recipes owned by royal family of the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). Tea and wine served the kings during the mornachic time were a special treat with herbal materials added.
Tea and wine prepared for kings and other royal family members were well prepared by a monarchic agency specialising in beverage and they were checked for benefits and side effects before being used by another royal agency, which gathered the top herbal physicians in the country. The materials were all organic and fresh and used for the remedy of popular health issues, including stomach ache and insomnia. Others were added to counter bacteria, lower cholesterol, fight cancer, reduce internal heat, produce liver coolant, as well as lower blood pressure.
The recipes later spread, following the experts and physicians that returned home after the reign ended in 1945. Today, several recipes have been restored successfully in products to serve modern needs.
This year’s festival is also highlighted by staged events, with an ao dai show and a hot air balloon fiesta.
Ao dai, the Vietnamese national costume, retains its appeal despite the strong influence of modern fashion styles. The costume holds a firm place in soul of almost every Vietnamese and thus ao dai show is always fascinating to audiences. In the last festival held in 2017, leading fashion designers across the country gathered in the city and offered audiences a wonderful ao dai show by copying the prominent paintings by Hue native artists and printing on the costume’s flaps.
The theme of this year has not been revealed prior to the show, but the stage will be the citadel’s Ngo Mon Square. It is expected to highlight the heyday of ao dai, as recently, the local government has attempted to encourage more locals to wear this costume every day. Hue researchers proved that the royal city is the birthplace of ao dai.
This is the third time the festival had a hot air balloon fiesta. The gathering of a number of colourful balloons from Vietnam, Netherlands, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand is expected to attract large crowds. Audiences will get chance to have flights on the balloons at heighta of 100m to 300m within a 4km radius to look the citadel of Hue.

Key shows:
Grand Opening ceremony 8:30pm April 26 Quoc Hoc Stele’s stage
Openning of Craft spaces 2:30pm April 26 Tu Tuong Park
Openning Guest Craft Space (S Korean & Japan) 3:30pm April 26 Hue Culture Museum
Music performance by S Korean artists 8:00pm April 27 Quoc Hoc Stele’s stage
Event: Flowers of Craft villages 9:00am April 27 Area surrounding the Hue Culture Museum
Ao dai show 8:00pm April 28 Ngo Mon Square
Gastronomy fair April 26-May 2 Thuong Bac Park
Openning of Hot air balloon fiesta 6:00am April 27 Ham Nghi Square
Ritual ceremony for craft ancestors 4:00pm April 29 Tu Tuong Park
Vietnamese music performance 8:00pm April 30 Quoc Hoc Stele’s stage
Ceremony honouring artisans 8:00pm May 1 Quoc Hoc Stele’s stage

Community programmes:
Herbal medicine corner April 25-May 2 Lieu Quan Buddhism Centre
‘Three Regions’ food court April 26-May 2 ­3/2 Park
Exhibition of Heroic Mothers’ portraits April 25-May 15 HCM Museum
‘Childhood Colour’ Festival April 25-May 1 Hue House of Children
Photo exhibition: Quitessences of Craftsmanship April 25-May 2 Phan Boi Chau Park
Stamp exhibition April 25-May 2 4 Hoang Hoa Tham Str.
Street music April 26-April 28 Backpacker corner
Kite flying festival April 26-May 2 Phan Boi Chau Park / Phu Van Lau Park
Calligraphy exhibition April 26-May 1 Phan Boi Chau Park
Human chess competition 4:00pm, April 28-April 30 Thuong Bac Park
Exhibition: Craft items used in royal life April 5-May 30 Hue Museum of Royal Antiquities
Exhibition: Hue’s jewelry April 26-May 2 278 Dinh Tien Hoang Str.
Exhibition: Truc Chi- Paper of Art April 26-May 2 5 Thach Han Str.

Text And Photos by Ha Nguyen
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