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Traditional toys take center stage in Mid-Autumn Festival

Update: September, 08/2014 - 07:30
The Mid-Autumn Festival, one of Viet Nam's largest celebrations, is originally for children but has since become an event for all people.

This year, people are still flocking to colourful Hang Ma street in the capital city's Old Quarter, where shops are festooned with Viet Nam's traditional hand-made lanterns, masks, lion heads and toys, creating a fanciful and festive atmosphere.

Many parents in Ha Noi have turned to traditional hand-made toys for their children for the coming Mid-Autumn Festival instead of the once-dominant imported toys from China.

Viet Nam News photographer Truong Van Vi took a tour of Hang Ma Street to get a feel of the atmosphere before the festival's main day, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month or September 8 on this year's solar calendar.

Hang Ma Street during festival day is so crowded that few people can drive a motorcycle through it. Throngs of people walk to the shops and buy toys for their children.

The street is a favourite destination of many Hanoian children during the festival.
A man buys Den Keo Quan, a traditional hand-made lantern with rotating images on its outside cover.
Made in the northern Nam Dinh Province, the Den Ong Sao or star-shaped lantern is a special toy to many Vietnamese children.
An old man buys Den Ong Sao for his children at home.

A Den Ong Sao bears a photograph of President Ho Chi Minh. The image of the star-shaped lantern appears in many Vietnamese songs. The most exciting song, Ruoc Den Ong Sao or Star-Shaped Lantern Parade, is always sung by children when they are walking in single file, with one hand raising the toy while singing the song.

A shopkeeper makes a Den Ong Sao on the street.

The Trong boi or paper drum is a modest but popular traditional toy enjoyed by generations of Vietnamese people.
The sound of the tiny Trong boi can be heard everywhere.
Small drums for children.
Lanterns bear the image of Saint Giong. Legend has it that Giong was born after his mother tried to fit her feet into the footprints of a giant in the field. At the age of three, he suddenly grew into a giant himself, when invaders attacked the country. He asked the king for an iron horse and promptly chased the invaders out of the country with an iron sword, wielding entire groves of bamboo. After that, he and his horse flew into the sky from Soc Mountain in Soc Son district.

Multi-coloured lanterns bear the image of Doraemon, the famous cat-like comic book character of Japanese, and now Vietnamese, children and teenagers.

Masks bear the face of Chu Teu (Little Teu), a tiny and comical wooden boy about four years old who always appears onstage in puppet shows. The boy's belly is usually exposed, and he wears either an unbuttoned red coat or just a loincloth.

A little girl is excited about her mask.
A traditional game, with chickens as main characters.

It's a special time for foreigners who joined in the Mid-Autumn Festival celebration in Ha Noi. They walk briskly along the street to view Vietnamese hand-made toys and learn more about the traditional life of Hanoians.
Hang Ma Street is not only a destination for travelers but also a wholesale traditional toy market in the capital city. Photos Truong Vi

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