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Artisans gear up for Mid-Autumn Festival

Update: September, 19/2020 - 09:01

Children nationwide are excited for Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on October 1 this year.   

The bustling atmosphere is apparent in Ông Hảo Village, Liêu Xá Commune, Yên Mỹ District in the northern province of Hưng Yên, as locals prepare handmade toys for the event.

The village supplies handmade toys to market in the north. VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

Traditional toys made from materials like bamboo, carton and paper including masks, drums and lion heads are produced here to sell in Hà Nội and other northern areas.

Vũ Thị Thoàn, 60, has been doing the job for 40 years.

The masks must be painted carefully. VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

Though her family produces handmade toys throughout the year, they are mostly busy from the early seventh month of the lunar year until Mid-Autumn Festival.

Her family plans to produce some 50,000 masks this year, 4,000 lion heads and 15,000 drums of various sizes.

A drum looks simple yet requires various stages to make. VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên 

Most of her family’s products have been ordered in advance by customers in the north.

When the annual rush is over, her family makes frames for masks, drums and lion heads to prepare for next year.

A mask of a character from Vietnamese literature. VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên

The village now has only five to seven families who maintain the traditional craft, though every family in the village was involved in the trade in the late 1980s.

Customers’ tastes have changed a lot and more and more plastic and metal toys from China have overwhelmed the domestic market.

Those still in the profession have found ways to adapt to the market by using new techniques to made toys.

In the past 10 years, various models of masks and lion heads made of carton and paper have been made with greater care in terms of colours, lines and additional accessories. Lion heads have had white artificial fur added to them.

The colourful masks depict various figures like Chí Phèo, Thị Nở in Vietnamese literature, or Chinese Monkey King and Pigsy.

Local Vũ Hữu Đọc, 70-something, said the career has been handed down through generations in the village for hundreds of years and he has been in the trade for nearly 50 years.

His family makes various kinds of toys, including drums of all sizes.

The drum’s faces are covered by buffalo skin while the body is made of wood.

Only a few families in Ông Hảo Village are still in the trade. VNA/VNS Photo Phạm Kiên 

Đọc said making drum require good skills and if the frame is not round, the buffalo skin will not stretch properly on the drumhead and the drum’s sound will not echo well.

A simple drum requires various stages like sawing wood, making the frame, painting on wood and stretching the buffalo skin on the head.

Đọc said each day he can make 50-60 small drums.

Despite fierce competition with modern toys, artisans in the village still believe in their traditional craft.

“While children are still excited for Mid-Autumn Festival, we will still produce toys for them,” Đọc said. VNS

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