Woodworking in Vietnam

Other Crafts

"The Hue [imperial] Court didn't distinguish the artist from the craftsman," noted the French authors of Vietnam, Civilization & Culture, a somewhat eccentric book I picked up in Hue. The book provides a handy listing of some crafts and where they were traditionally practiced. For the modern traveler, a typical tourist guide would be equally helpful. Although interesting crafts are available for sale or viewing in all parts of the country, some areas are more reknown. For example, the village of Bat Trang, a counterpart of Don Ky as another "craft village" located near Hanoi, is famous for its ceramics. Like Don Ky, Bat Trang has low tech factories, in which handcrafted materials are made to look as uniform as machine made. Other traditional crafts include lacquerware, basket-weaving, construction of water puppets, paper-making and stone-carving.

Click on any picture to enlarge

Painters painting ceramics, Bat Trang.
A small container (bowl with lid) from Bat Trang. Ceramics are molded (not thrown), then handpainted. Pale ceramics are reputed to be safe to eat from, but darkly painted containers - many items are a wonderful deep blue - are covered with lead-filled paints.
A ceramic tea pot from Bat Trang with ornamental touches.
Baskets with lids from Hanoi (origins unknown). Baskets in an amazing range of sizes can be bought at any big market and from many street sellers, who may carry their wares on a big pole.
Lacquerware with eggshell inlay. A bowl with lid like this is used for hot foods, such as rice.
Lacquerware with eggshell inlay on ceramicware. Lacquerware is made from a sap from the aptly-named lacquer tree (cay son in Vietnamese).
A carved stoneware tea set in the shape of a dragon. The accompanying tea cups, which rest on areas decorated with mother-of-pearl inlay, seem tiny to Westerners but are actually a standard Vietnamese size.
An incense burner from Bat Trang. Most of the ceramicware marketed to tourists is also purchased by the Vietnamese themselves for use in their shrines or homes. Even the most celebrated temples may include some of this ceramicware.


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