Artisans work to revive Dong Ho folk art

Nguyen Dang Che and Nguyen Huu Sam from the northern province of Bac Ninh are two of the few remaining artisans specialising in Dong Ho folk painting – a centuries-old tradition deeply engrained in the mind of the Vietnamese people.

Che and his family have invested more than VND3 billion (US$141,690) in building a centre to restore and preserve this art form on an area of over 5,000 square metres. 

Dong Ho folk painting is an art form that uses woodcut prints and originates in Dong Ho village in Bac Ninh province. The prints depict the daily activities and religious practices of farmers in the Red River Delta. 

Popular works carry the names “Playing the flute”, “Farmer and Water Buffalo”, “Catching coconuts”, “Jealousy” and “Mice Wedding”, and reflect the artists’ and local inhabitants’ aspirations for happy, peaceful and prosperous lives. 

Traditionally, craftsmen used raw materials from nature, making sheets of paper from the bark of the “do” (poonah) tree and mixing colours using soil, burnt bamboo leaves and sea shells. 

It is important to promote the brand “Dong Ho” and increase the villagers’ involvement in preserving the art form to ensure the paintings gain popularity, both at home and abroad, Che said. 

Che and Sam have also engaged in a VND60 billion (US$2.86 million) project to preserve and uphold the cultural heritage value of this art form, recently improved by the provincial People’s Committee. The project will run from 2014 to 2016, with a vision for 2030. 

Meanwhile, the provincial People’s Committee of Bac Ninh has approved a project worth close to VND60 billion (US$2.86 million ) to preserve and uphold the cultural heritage value of this art form. The project will run from 2014 to 2016, with a vision for 2030. 

Authorities have earmarked funds to apply for UNESCO recognition of the art form as an intangible cultural heritage in need of urgent protection. UNESCO requirements are expected to be met by 2016, at a cost of VND7.8 billion  (US$371,400). 

In the future, regular photo exhibitions will be held, bringing Dong Ho paintings closer to visitors to the province, Chairman of the People’s Committee Nguyen Nhu Dieu said.

VNA/VOV.VN