Crafty destinations

Thach Xa bamboo dragonflies

In a village near well-known Tay Phuong pagoda in Thach That district, Hanoi, craftspeople create beautiful bamboo dragonflies, a symbol of the Vietnamese countryside, which are favored by domestic and foreign visitors.
“To create a perfect bamboo dragonfly, an artisan must go through different processes which require great patience and hard work,” said Nguyen Van Tai, one of the first artisans who made bamboo dragonflies in Thach Xa village.

Thach Xa bamboo dragonflies are special in that they can keep balance and perch on anything even though they are only made of bamboo without any accompanying devices or motor.

The first and very important step is selecting the material. “If the bamboo’s quality is not good, the dragonflies can lose their balance,” Tai said.

Thach Xa craft village is located in Thach That district, Hanoi. Photo: Huyen My

The bodies and wings of the bamboo dragonflies are handmade by skilled artisans. Photo: Huyen My

To ensure the products’ durability, Thach Xa villagers buy bamboo from Vinh Phuc, Hoa Binh, and Tuyen Quang, which are home to thin but solid forest bamboo. Photo: Cong Dat

Balancing the bamboo dragonflies is the last step in the stage of shaping the form. Photo: Huyen My

The most difficult stage is to assemble the wings to the body. Photo: Cong Dat

A bamboo dragonfly before being painted. Photo: Cong Dat

Bamboo dragonflies are painted in ten different colors. Photo: Cong Dat

The artisans must be patient and careful. Photo: Cong Dat

Beautiful dragonflies. Photo: Cong Dat

The unique beauty of Thach Xa’s bamboo dragonflies. Photo: Cong Dat

Decorating the dragonflies. Photo: Huyen My

Making bamboo dragonflies involves different processes. Photo: Cong Dat

The most difficult step is shaping the form precisely to ensure its balance so that the dragonfly can perch on any small place. According to Tai, the secret behind such balance is that its three points, which are the beak, wings and tail, must be equal with the dragonfly’s weight at the middle point. And the focal point must lie on the dragonfly's beak.

The next step is coloring the dragonflies, where the artisans have to mix their own paint colors. After the dragonflies are coated with their colored outer skin, they are dried before being decorated with vivid patterns.

The final step of decorating requires the artisans’ talent and aesthetic taste to create beautiful bamboo dragonflies.

Bamboo dragonflies remind people of their childhood living in the countryside. Photo: Cong Dat

Thach Xa villagers also make bamboo butterflies and peacocks. Photo: Huyen My

Dragonflies are a symbol of the Vietnamese countryside. Photo: Cong Dat

Dragonflies are very familiar to rural children. Photo: Cong Dat

Tai showed us a batch of bamboo dragonflies painted in flags of different countries. On one wing is the Vietnamese flag and the other is the flag of another country, including Japan, the US, China, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Thach Xa bamboo dragonflies are popular across the country, especially in major tourist areas such as Hanoi, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Ho Chi Minh City. The products have also been exported to the US, France, Germany, the UK, and Japan.
Story: Thao Vy Photos: Cong Dat – Huyen My

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