Bamboo crafting is not just making something. Also, bamboo is not just material for products. Bamboo has many similarities to Vietnamese people’s spirit and personalities. There are many villages where whole communities craft bamboo in traditional methods in Vietnam.
Natural bamboos have become eco-friendly furniture, life appliance, clothes and even housing materials by artisans. Manufacturing these type of things with hands, skill, and endeavour is called “Bamboo crafting”.
Bamboo and Vietnamese’ Spirit
We can explain, or describe Vietnamese spirit with bamboo. Bamboo is classified as evergreen grass, not tree. It is hard, and firm, but also flexible, and bendable at the same time. Its growing speed is really fast, so even a little sprout becomes a big sized bamboo in few weeks. Each bamboo get together, become families, and make a thick forest their own. Due to its wide usage, and characteristics, it has been a symbol of Vietnamese people’s soul. That is why Bamboo is officially national tree of Vietnam, and Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum also has a bamboo forest near.
Vietnamese people are hard and soft, straightforward, firmly united like as bamboos. Furthermore, it also represents braveness, hard-working, optimism, and regeneration. There is a Vietnamese proverb, “When the bamboo is old, the bamboo sprouts appear”. In this proverb bamboo represents Vietnamese, and it means they cannot be annihilated. Historically, Vietnam has never been conquered by other countries even though they have failed in some battles. They have fought the strongest countries in the period, and made them retreat. Bamboo also appears in many Vietnamese fairy tales, so bamboo has been exposed by Vietnamese people since they are very young. Thus, bamboo is not only a practical material, but also spiritual symbol, and friend.
Practical, and Eco-friendly Resource
Bamboos are usually grown in tropical, and temperate climate. However, manufactured bamboos are much stronger than original ones. They have resistance on climate change, disease, and insects even if they are in the nature, and it means it doesn’t need to take pesticides. Furthermore, depending on their species, bamboos can be as soft as pine, much harder than maple tree. Not many chemical working process is needed, bamboos are more eco-friendly and healthier than common materials. Also, fibers from bamboo are softer than cotton, and able to get rid of moisture. This silk-like cloth is very suitable for our bodies even for infants.
Bamboo Crafting Villages
Bamboo has been a valuable resource, so reproducing it also has been significant skill to Vietnamese, and there are more than 700 hundreds of bamboo crafting villages in Vietnam, and 2 of them will be introduced in this article. Although we have many types materials for manufacturing in this century, these villages still actively manufacturing bamboo products, because necessities in the past has now become arts. Artisans in villages run their small enterprises, but you need to remember that these places are not tourism sectors, but manufacturing sectors. However,visiting the villages can be good experience while traveling in Vietnam, if you are looking for these, and artisans welcome you.
- I want to travel peaceful traditional suburbs in Vietnam.
- I want to see the industry, and the process of crafting bamboo.
- I am tired of tourism sectors, and other tourists.
Xuan Lai Village
The distance from Xuan Lai Village to Hanoi is around 45 km to the east. This Village’s products are also mainly made by families, and 70% of villagers are involved in bamboo crafting industry. They make furniture such as bamboo chairs, table, and beds etc. Their hand-made productions are sold actively in domestic, and if there is a special request, exported to abroad. Thus, their rate of poverty is below 1%, and their economic status is 40% wealthier than the average of Vietnamese. In other words, their crafts are regarded as arts.
Phu Vinh Village
This village is located 35km away from Hanoi to the southwest. It is said that this village’s bamboo crafting history is about 400 hundred years. At first, just one artisan started bamboo weaving, but the skill has been taught, practiced and spread by the artisan, so now over 6000 villagers are bamboo artists. Their competitiveness of bamboo crafting is really strong, they make living with this skill itself. Their products are usually appliances for daily life such as bamboo baskets, bags, boxes, and jars. However, they also provide some luxuries such as curtains, lampshades, portraits, etc.