Crafty destinations

Unique bamboo root sculptures

In the middle of Hoi An ancient town, there is a small stall displaying hundreds of strange portrait sculptures carved from bamboo roots. Those are the artwork of Huynh Phuong Do whose nickname is "Do bamboo roots".
The strange sculptures in Do’s shop capture the attention of anyone passing by. Seeing an artist surrounded by bamboo roots and artworks hung on the walls, many foreign tourists are surprised and curious. They look to buy and order Do’s bamboo root souvenirs when visiting Hoi An.

For many people, the bamboo root is seen as a waste product or at most used to make fires for the poor. Do has been making a name for himself by carving beautiful sculptures out of bamboo roots.

Do launched his artistic career completely by accident. He used to be a carpenter who was trained by many known journeymen in the traditional village of Kim Bong. When Hoi An suffered from a major flood in 1999, Do saw some bamboo roots drifting in front of his door. Seeing the strange shape of the roots, Do came up with the idea of using it to carve a sculpture. After much effort, Do succeeded and has been making bamboo root sculptures ever since.

Artist Huynh Phuong Do, who is known for his talent in carving bamboo root sculptures in Hoi An. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Do's souvenir shop on a corner leading to the Hoi An market. Photo: Thanh Hoa

A sculpture is scarved from a bamboo root. Photo: Thanh Hoa

Do's tools for making bamboo root sculptures. Photo: Thanh Hoa

Foreign tourists are interested in Do's sculptures. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Do’s works surprise Japanese tourists. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Do hangs the sculptures for sale. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

Do said that with the features of ribbed and rough, the bamboo root is very suitable for sculpting  portraits of Buddhist deities and historical figures such as Luohan, Maitreya Buddha, the Dalai Lama, Fu Lu Shou, Guangong, Zhangfei and Tran Hung Dao.

According to Do, the sculpting technique using bamboo roots is not difficult. To create beautiful and soulful artworks, the sculptor must know how to make full use of the natural features of bamboo roots to bring out the charisma of the character.

Selecting figures to be sculpted greatly determines the success of the work. Because the natural shape of the bamboo root varies, it is necessary to reimagine and choose portraits with unique characteristics.

The unique bamboo root sculptures. Photo: Thanh Hoa 

After nearly 20 years of sculpting, Huynh Phuong Do has not only built a decent livelihood but also taught many generations of young artists. His bamboo root sculptures, along with other popular traditional handicrafts of Hoi An such as lanterns, Kim Bong carpentry and Thanh Ha pottery, have become the souvenirs imbued with the cultural identity of Hoi An. These unique artworks help promote the heritage of this craft area to the world.
By Thanh Hoa

Son Dong Statue Sculpturing Village

Son Dong Statue Sculpturing Village

The craft village of Son Dong (in Son Dong commune, Hoai Duc district, Hanoi) is well-known for its traditional carving and sculpturing, as well as its exquisite gold and silver inlay techniques used in making items for worship. The village's products are highly regarded by customers both in and outside Vietnam.