Culture highlights

Lighting up the craft of making lanterns

Nguyen Trong Thanh from Phu Binh village, Ho Chi Minh City, has devoted more than 50 years to making lanterns, a craft handed down by his father, an artisan from Nam Dinh who migrated to the south in the early 1950s.
Although many villagers in Phu Binh make lanterns, Thanh is the only one who can make big lanterns with unique designs.
According to the artisan, the craft is not so difficult but requires deftness and creativity. To make a lantern, one must go through four steps: splitting bamboo, shaping the frame, gluing colorful cellophane onto the frame, and painting.

“The custom of using traditional lanterns during the Full Moon Festival, which was once abandoned, has been restored in recent years,” Thanh said.  He receives a lot of orders during the children’s biggest festival. Beautiful animal-shaped lanterns each cost between 1-10 US dollars depending on their size.

Nguyen Trong Thanh has been making lanterns for over 50 years. 

Making a lantern requires several steps. 

Bamboo is the main material used for making lanterns.

Framing a large-sized lantern. 

Paintbrushes are an important tool for making lanterns. 

Water color for painting.

Gluing cellophane. 

Painting on cellophane is the most difficult step.

Painting to decorate the lanterns requires skill. 

Delicately painted patterns on the lanterns.

Animal-shaped lanterns are one of the best sellers. 

Apart from the Full Moon Festival which is the busiest time in the year for Thanh, he receives many orders during other festivals. The types, sizes and colors of the lanterns made for these events are diverse depending on the order. The largest lantern Thanh has made so far was three meters and took him three days to complete.

Thanh currently supplies lanterns for not only Ho Chi Minh City, but also many provinces nationwide and overseas markets during the Mid-Autumn Festival. These lanterns are exported to many countries, serving the demands of overseas Vietnamese during every full-moon festival.

Lanterns made by Nguyen Trong Thanh:

By Thong Hai

The Sounds of Cheo in Khuoc Village

The Sounds of Cheo in Khuoc Village

Because of the emerging new art forms, the traditional musical art of Cheo (Vietnamese traditional opera) is gradually fading from contemporary cultural life. However, in a rural village in the Red River delta in northern Vietnam, Cheo performances are held frequently in communal yards and the songs continue to resonate throughout the village’s corners and lanes.