With Mid-Autumn Festival is approaching, the 15th day of the eighth lunar month falls on September 13, Nguyễn Thị Tuyến is busy making paper scholars.
She's one of few artisans who still make the traditional toys for children.
Nguyễn Thị Tuyến
the only artisan who still keeps the handicraft of making paper doctor. — VNS Photos Lê Bích
She spends a lot of time carefully making small bamboo sticks and cutting the small costume for the toy scholar.
The figure is made
of clay, bamboo
The scholar, called tiến sỹ giấy in Vietnamese, is a symbol of people in advanced studies. The paper scholar wears a traditional hat and costume like those who did well in local and royal examinations in feudal times.
In the past, families displayed paper scholars during Mid-Autumn Festival parties to encourage children to study hard and get success in their future careers.
The traditional toy is displayed
on the altar or on a tray of food for children to enjoy at Mid
-Autumn Festival party.
A normal small set, which always consists of a paper scholar with two servants, was displayed in families’ tray of toys, fruits and food for the children to eat and play with on the night of Mid-Autumn Festival.
normal set always consists of
a paper doctor with two servants.
The bigger sets were bought by hamlets or villages to display on the food trays of the collectives.
The paper scholar figures were kept near children’s study corner or put at the families’ altars until the end of the lunar year. At the end of the Mid-Autumn Festival feast or the end of lunar year, the figures would be burnt.
Tuyến said the face of the scholar is made of clay, is dried in the sun and is then painted.
“His body frame is made of bamboo,” she said. “The frame should be balanced so that his body can stand firmly. The joints are fixed with metal strings.”
After the frame is complete, she sticks papers on. The scholar is then covered with a bright, colourful paper costume.
“Now children are more interested in electronic devices, folk toys have become less and less popular,” Tuyến said.
A family enjoy Mid
“I still keep my family’s handicraft to continue the traditional culture,” she said.
Mid-Autumn Festival is an important event for Vietnamese people, when families reunite, parents treat their children, and grown-up children give presents to parents and elders in the family. — VNS