In the past, after harvest time, Vietnamese people made handicraft works to meet their own needs. Their products are very skillful and sophisticated, even though they are farmers and do not specialize in handicrafts. The techniques were kept secret, but taught to relatives or fellow villagers.
The village, therefore, became a very important institution in the handicraft industry. The village’s name became the trademark of handicraft products made by its villagers. Đình làng– the village’s temple became the place of worship and tổ nghề the man who first taught the villagers to do these handicraft works.
When urbanization came to Vietnam, many people came to towns/cities and professionalized in the handicraft works they had done in their old village. They did not compete with one another but gathered in the guild – the new form of handicraft village, to help others to improve.
The Vietnamese government has recognized about 1500 handicraft villages, of which about 300 are traditional handicraft villages. These villages maintain the country’s handicraft heritage.
Therefore, still some villages in Hoi An have remains until today.
Tra Que Vegetable village
Hoi An is not only famous for its old house, small alleys, historic sites, good food but also for traditional craft villages such us vegetable village, carpentry,…. It will be a big mistake if you are missing Tra Que village when you come to Hoi An. Although it is a small village, Tra Que supplies organic veggies for the whole Hoi An nearby areas.
Planting veggie here has its own process. With every crop, they give a layer of manure first, then cover with tilth on top. Mostly seed has been grown into a small plant. Based on this village, Hoi An people have fresh veggie everyday for making rice noodle, cao lau, fresh spring roll…
Kim Bong Carpentry village
In 15th century, Kim Bong had founded and grew prosperously in 18th century. It divided into 3 main group of making carpentry:
Architecture carpentry: which is super famous at the time Hoi An became a famous trading port in the middle of Viet Nam. Nowaday, Hoi An still keep its own beauty of houses, bridges,… that have made with wood.
Domestic carpentry: main supplied for people in the past. Making useful stuffs for house chores.
Boat-building carpentry: in Cam Kim village, there is still have a traditional work that making boat. With the same making process with anywhere else, this village still have specially features that nowhere has.
Lanterns appeared in the late 16th century when the first Chinese came to settle. They hung the lamp to deal with the feeling of nostalgia. According to the local population, the craftsman Huynh Van Ba was the first one who studied, created and integrated the cultural characteristics of Vietnam into traditional lanterns.
The process of making a lantern is a meticulous work that requires many skills of artisans. The main materials used are bamboo and silk which are familiar images in Vietnamese people’s life.
At first, the upper class in society was the only one who could have big lanterns decorated with Chinese characters or paintings hanging at home. Gradually, lanterns became popular for the middle class in the form of home decor by retaining its beauty, luxury and inherent charm.
Nowadays, lanterns come in various shapes, sizes as well as methods of construction. They can be spherical lanterns, pumpkin-shaped lanterns or rotating lanterns. Each shape and color of the lantern has a different meaning. For example, the rounds symbolize harmony and balance. This is a typical shape of lantern in Hoi An. According to folklore, a lantern hanging in the house is the symbol bringing more warmth, peace and luck to the home.
Thanh Ha Pottery village
Pottery is not just a significant and traditional craft in Vietnam, but also an important means of livelihood. The Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An is a famous example in this type of an establishment that aims at furthering tradition as well as employment. The Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An is located in the Quang Nam Province in the Thanh Ha ward; Hoi An lies 3 Km to the East of it. The pottery village has a long historical legacy attached to it.
The tradition dated back to the time when the Nguyen Dynasty of Hue invited craftsmen from the Thanh Ha Pottery Village to fashion some decorative as well as useful articles for the palace. This one event gained them sufficient renown to last them a lifetime. Henceforth, the village began a Mandarin system of grading craftsmen according to their talent. The most talented held the ninth position. The pottery at the Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An are all manually crafted and are exported world over. The techniques that they use are unique from those prevalent in other provinces. The Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An crafts decorative articles along with useful items like cups, jars, bowls and pots. The flower pots made here are particularly sought after.
The Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An used clay mixing techniques, burning and baking time and heat modulations. To bring out different colors like pink, pinkish-yellow, red, light brown and ink-black in the wares. The craftsmen also modulate all these aspects to achieve immense durability in their products. Aside of the regular articles, the Thanh Ha Pottery Village in Hoi An is also renowned for its bricks and tiles of various shapes and sizes. In fact its bricks and tiles are sourced out to the entire local as well as many foreign regions. It is the most trusted name for contractors engaged in tasks of renovation.
Cam Kim Sleeping mats weaving village
You’re probably thinking of a sumptuous, thick, comfortable mattress, right? Well, in Vietnam, things are a little different. Your typical mattress here is a thin handmade sleeping mat. Made out of dried reeds and laid either on the floor or on a raised platform. This helps keep the ‘sleeper’ cool in the tropical heat. And ‘beds’ can be quickly assembled and therefore put away to make more cooler space indoors during the day.
Your everyday sleeping mat is made with reeds which are grown in the family’s land and then dried in the sunshine. The dying process involves a huge cooking pot into which the reeds are immersed and boil dyed with bright colors of either red, yellow, green or purple. They are sun dried again and then intricately weaved into patterns, each unique to the families producing these woven works of art. For special occasions or ancestral worship, only the natural color of the reed is used.
Mat weaving is considered a simple craft, since it takes little training. Yet when you watch the graceful and seemingly effortless teamwork, it is difficult to not be amazed as two people work in harmony, one controlling the shuttle and the other the loom. This is a craft handed down over generations and you will soon realize they make it look easy, even knowing exactly when to change the colors of the reeds to create perfect patterns.
These sleeping mats can be found at most local markets and are easily spotted by their bright colors, and you guessed it – they are transported to market on the back of a motorbike!