EET UR EATURED RTISANS
The carpentry village of Kim Bong. Located on a tiny island just south of Hoi An, the village has an incredible history of woodcarving said to be founded in the 15th century by four soldiers of King Lei Loi’s army. All skilled at carpentry, they established successful workshops and became the four main craftsmen families in the village (Huynh, Nguyen, Truong and Phan). Incredibly, many of these families still exist today and continue to preserve the skills their ancestors have passed down to them. Carpentry continued to thrive in the village and, over the centuries, the craftsmen became renowned not only in Vietnam but throughout the world. It is said that in the 17th century carpenters from the village helped to build one of the Spanish warships for their Navy. At its peak, it is believed that up to 85% of the village were involved in woodwork in some shape or form. This success continued and in the 18th century woodcarvers and carpenters from the village did an incredible amount of the detailed work on the former imperial capital of Hue City.
Today, there are four main types of carpentry and woodcarving carried out in the village; traditional houses, boats, souvenirs and furniture.
IMPERIAL TRADITION OF LACQUERWARE
Lacquer painting is a form of painting with lacquer which was practiced in China & Japan for decoration on lacquerware, and found its way to Europe both via Persia and by direct contact with Asia. The genre was revived and developed as a distinct genre of fine art painting by Vietnamese artists in the 1930s; the genre is known in Vietnamese as "sơn mài." Making a lacquer painting may take several months depending on the technique used and the number of layers of lacquer. In Vietnam's sơn mài lacquer painting first a black board is prepared. Then outlines in chalk are picked out in white with eggshell and clear varnish, then polished. Then the first layer of colored lacquer is applied, usually followed by silver leaf and another layer of clear lacquer. Then several more layers of different coloured lacquers are painted by brush, with clear lacquer layers between them. In Vietnam an artist may apply up to ten layers or more of colored and clear lacquer. Each layer requires drying and polishing. When all layers are applied the artist polishes different parts of the painting until the preferred colours show. Fine sandpaper and a mix of charcoal powder and human hair is used to carefully reach the correct layer of each specific color. Consequently, "lacquer painting" is in part a misnomer, since the bringing out of the colors is not done in the preparatory painting but in the burnishing of the lacquer layers to reveal the desired image beneath.
THE CITADEL EMBROIDERISTS
The traditional craft has been in existence for thousands of years, first marked by embroidered letters on clothes and silk in the first century. History and legends talk of how Imperial Concubine Y Lan taught palace maids embroidery techniques in the 11th century of the Ly Dynasty. But the craft did not really blossom until 600 years later when Le Cong Hanh returned home from his king's envoy term in China.
Hanh who was a villager of Quat Dong, Thuong Tin District now on the outskirts of Hanoi brought back the embroidery craft of the Chinese and gave it to his neighbours and residents in surrounding communes. He was then honoured with the Ancestor of Quat Dong Embroidery. The beauty and quality of the village's products grew in reputation and became a favourite of royal mandarins and dignitaries in Thang Long (Hanoi today). Although the skills spread across the country, works by Quat Dong's artisans are still most appreciated.
THE WEAVERS OF TWO NATIONS
The Ta-oi ethnic group speaks a language in the Mon–Khmer language family, and is regarded as one of Vietnam's indigenous groups. The Ta Oi call themselves Taoih, or sometimes as Taoih or Ta Uot, and is called by the Paco sub-group as Can Tua or Can Tang, which means "highlanders".
According to the April 1, 1999 census on population and housing, the Ta-oi have a population of 34,960, accounting for 0.07% of the national population. At present, the Ta-oi live in both Vietnam and Laos, in the latter nation where they the Ta oi mainstream population and also call themselves as Taoih.
Another sub-group of the Ta-Oi is called as Paco (Pa coh), which means "persons who live behind the mountains." Judging by the family clan origin, marriage and family relationship and language.
Judging by the family clan origin, marriage and family relationship and language, the Ba hi people who mainly lives in Hướng Hóa District, Quảng Trị Province, can be regarded as a local sub-group of the Ta-oi.
The Paco live at the foot of mountains and hills, are conversant in slope field cultivation, in bamboo and rattan weaving, but are not adept in cloth weaving. But they are good traders who earn profits through exchanging cloth and clothes, blacksmith goods, beautiful shoulder baskets, honey against other more valuable goods. The Ba hi live in valleys close to the lowland areas and are adept in trading and in wet paddy cultivation. Thus, the Ta-oi do take into account various elements of topography, environment and economic activities in order to assess and analyze their own ethnic group and sub-groups, and their different characteristics.
The Ta-oi in Nham commune explain that they called themselves as Ta uot, but the members of the Kinh ethnic group coming from the lowlands of Thừa Thiên–Huế called them as Ta-oi. The Ta uot group lives mainly in middle-level of mountains and are sparsely distributed in the mountain tops. In addition to cultivation, they are adept in growing cotton, weaving cloth and brocades, in sewing or fastening glass beads on costumes, and in making some musical instruments (drums, pan flutes).