Star/carp shaped lanterns made by Dũng (left) are sold in front of Lý Tự Trong street in Hà Tĩnh every Mid Autumn Festival for the last 30 years. VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Ngà
HÀ TĨNH — An old man parks his motorbike in front of Lý Tự Trọng Park in the central city of Hà Tĩnh with some big, colourful star-shaped lanterns on it.
Passersby, especially children, slow down to have a few more seconds to look the lanterns. Some even turn their heads to look back.
Local people feel the Mid-Autumn Festival buzz whenever they see the lantern seller on the street.
It has been 30 years since Trương Viết Dũng, a 70-year-old veteran, started making lanterns for sale in the city of the eponymous province.
“I can not forget full moon festivals during my childhood when I together with other members of the local Hồ Chí Minh Young Pioneers Organisation made star lanterns to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival,” Dũng said.
With colourful see-through plastic, bamboo sticks and candles insides, such star lanterns lit up Dũng’s childhood.
For children of those times, the simple toy was enough to make their Mid-Autumn Festival special and the happiness of holding a bright lantern, showing off to others, stayed with them long into later life.
Seeing children of today flooded with various kinds of toys or isolated with TVs or smartphones, since 1990, Dũng started making lanterns to sell during Mid-Autumn Festival.
From the seventh month of the lunar year, his house in a small hamlet on Lý Tự Trọng Street turns into a messy workshop full of coloured papers and bamboo and other tools to make lanterns.
“I just want to keep a typical traditional feature of Mid-Autumn Festival,” Dũng said.
To make a star-shaped lantern, he has to stand for about three hours. He can make up to three lanterns a day and usually sells them for VNĐ300,000 - 500,000.
Dũng likes to decorate his lanterns with a picture of Uncle Hồ on the heart of the star and on its backside, he sticks a poem about Uncle Hồ’s love for children.
Besides star-shaped lanterns, Dũng also makes carp-shaped versions with the carps’ eyes movable, making them look very vivid.
Children are most fascinated by the moving eyes of the carps, Dũng said.
In the last few years, people around the city and in other provinces have heard about Dũng’s lanterns. They order the lanterns for celebrations at their homes, offices or neighbourhoods.
On average, during Mid-Autumn Festival, Dũng can sell 40-60 lanterns.
“I’m happy not because I can make an income from selling the lanterns but because the traditional lanterns are still present in today’s Mid-Autumn Festival and that people, especially children, know about it,” he said.
Phan Thị Hà, a preschool teacher in Hà Tĩnh City said that she usually bought Dũng’s lanterns to prepare for Mid-Autumn Festival.
“Traditional colourful lanterns are indispensable in our Mid-Autumn celebration for small children,” Hà said.
Hà said that she visited Dũng’s house, seeing him carefully and wholeheartedly make every single part of the lanterns and then, happily assemble and complete them.
“Dũng is willing to show people how to make a lartern so that teachers like me can show our students later,” Hà said.
“It is not only about making a traditional toy but also preserving traditional values for next generations,” the teacher said. — VNS
Dũng uses cardboard and bamboo materials to craft the lanterns. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoàng Ngà