Depicting Vietnam Using 3D Paper Lamps

Depicting Vietnam Using 3D Paper Lamps

The collection “Vietnam, the land and the people” which includes 17 artworks by young artist Nguyen Duy Duy introduced the ao dai, ao tu than (four-flap dress), ao ngu than (five-flap dress), the Central Highlands gong culture, water puppetry and Hue royal court music. All are vividly depicted by the magic light of 3D lamps.

Nguyen Duy Duy has created more than 100 3D paper lamps. Photo: Khanh Long/VNP

After graduating in graphic design from Hanoi Vocational College of High Technology, Nguyen Duy Duy used the idea from his graduation project, and built a 3D paper lamp with the theme of Vietnamese history, country and people.

Duy said that building a paper lamp had at least five stages of brainstorming design ideas, separating layers; dividing the sketch into layers of near and far, light and dark; cutting and engraving; and assembling and reinforcing frames.

Coming up with ideas was time-consuming for Duy. “How to deliver the stories in the lamps to viewers was difficult. If they don't get the stories and the feelings conveyed by the makers, it's a failed work,” Duy said.

Duy uses high-quality paper for the lamp, making his works sturdy and reducing the impact of moisture. Each lamp is composed of nine to 13 layers of paper to ensure a depth effect. It used to take Duy one-two weeks, or even more, to complete a hand-cut lamp. Now, with a laser paper cutter, the young artist can complete three-four works per day.


Duy created the 3D paper lamps by combining the art of Japanese origami paper cutting, Chinese shadow puppetry and Vietnamese magic lanterns. The last stage is color mixing and checking the light penetration using LED lights. Mistakes at this step can result in unpleasant colors that are painful to the eyes. Not only that, too weak or too strong light would take away the paper’s shine. To make the inner part of the lamps, each tiny piece of paper was assembled and installed with a switch attached. When the power was on, layers of papers and the soft light created a unique silhouette that told meaningful stories. 

The young artist is developing more 3D paper lamps with Buddhist themes. Duy said that his next projects would focus on culture, folk games and re-enact Vietnamese history. His plan was to hold an exhibition to launch these products around the middle of 2023.


Story: Ngan Ha/VNP - Photos: Khanh Long – Translated by Hong Hanh