|Writing on the wall: The calligraphy market at the Labour Cultural House is one of two traditional calligraphy markets open in HCM City during the Tết holiday season. VNS photo by Phương Mai|
HCM CITY – Calligraphy markets have begun sales 10 days before Tết (Lunar New Year), the traditional time for opening of the markets.
“As a decades-long Vietnamese tradition, I’ll visit the markets to look for calligraphy works in hope of bringing happiness, success, wealth and health to my family,” said Trần Minh Ánh, a garment worker in Tân Phú District.
Two traditional calligraphy markets in HCM City are located at the Youth Cultural House and the Labour Cultural House in District 1, attracting more than 50 calligraphers who are members of calligraphy clubs in the city and neighbouring provinces.
The artists dressed in áo dài, including men and women of varying ages, are showing their skills and selling calligraphy in black and yellow ink on red paper at the venue.
The 18-year-old calligrapher Võ Xuân Thành of HCM City said it was the fifth time that he had participated in the calligraphy market at the Youth Cultural House.
“I love painting when I was a child. I began teaching myself calligraphy at the age of seven,” he said. “I’m very happy to introduce my calligraphy works to people and wish them a happy new year.”
Each calligraphy work is priced from VNĐ30,000 to VNĐ200,000 (US$1.3-8.8), depending on the craftsmanship, size and materials. Large works are VNĐ400,000 ($17.6) or more.
The calligraphers are taking requests from visitors for words to write on red lucky money envelopes as well. The envelopes cost from VNĐ30,000 for a set of five.
Most visitors prefer buying lucky money envelopes and small calligraphy pictures to hang on mai (ochna) trees, according to Thành.
This year, the market has offered products in leather like wallets and handbags. They are painted with images of landscapes, flowers, mascots and pets, priced from VNĐ50,000 ($2.2).
Apart from looking for calligraphy works, several residents and foreigners visit the markets for beautiful, colourful photos.
Phan Thanh Hương, a senior at HCM City’s Hồng Bàng International University, said, “My friends and I bought áo dài a few weeks ago to prepare for the photos at the calligraphy market at the Youth Cultural House.”
The market is decorated with mai (apricot) and đào (peach blossom) trees, while the calligraphers sitting on mats are arranged in an oval shape symbolising peace, similar to the calligraphy markets in the past.
“The calligraphy market is one of the cultural traits during Tết in HCM City, along with the Tao Đàn Flower Festival and Nguyễn Huệ Flower Street,” Hương said.
Both markets at the Youth Cultural House and the Labour Cultural House will remain open until February 15 (Lunar New Year’s Eve). VNS