Viet­nam de­vises strate­gies to re­vive dy­ing art form

China Daily (USA) - - LIFE - By XIN­HUA in Hanoi

Vis­i­tors to Hanoi can now see 12 gen­res of Viet­namese folk paint­ings at an ex­hi­bi­tion at the Hanoi Mu­seum. More than 200 works from well­known paint­ing gen­res such as Dong Ho, Hang Trong and Kim Hoang are on show.

The ex­hi­bi­tion, which opened on Fri­day, aims to show­case Viet­namese tra­di­tional folk paint­ings to do­mes­tic and for­eign vis­i­tors, the or­ga­niz­ers say.

Ac­cord­ing to Nguyen Tien Da, di­rec­tor of the Hanoi Mu­seum, tra­di­tional folk paint­ings dis­play a com­mu­nity’s unique cul­tural char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Speak­ing of the chal­lenges fac­ing the art form, he says: “The ques­tion of how to com­bine tra­di­tional and modern art needs thor­ough con­sid­er­a­tion and in­vest­ment in or­der to nur­ture aware­ness among the young about the preser­va­tion of ances­tral cul­tural fea­tures.”

Truong Quoc Binh, for­mer di­rec­tor of the Viet­nam Fine Arts Mu­seum, says as the na­tion’s so­cio-eco­nomic situation changes, many types of tra­di­tional folk paint­ings are on the verge of dis­ap­pear­ing.

The de­mand for tra­di­tional folk paint­ings has also de­creased, which has forced craft vil­lages and ar­ti­sans to seek other jobs, says Binh.

For in­stance, Dong Ho paint­ings were once among the “must-have” things dur­ing the lu­nar New Year fes­ti­val, or Tet as it is lo­cally known, for wor­ship or dec­o­ra­tion pur­poses.

Peo­ple then dis­played Dong Ho folk paint­ings in their houses through­out the year and re­placed them with new ones every Tet. But the tra­di­tion has faded away with time.

Mak­ing the same point, Nguyen Dang Che, an ar­ti­san from Dong Ho village in Viet­nam’s north­ern Bac Ninh prov­ince, says: “Be­fore 1945, my village had 17 clans en­gaged in pro­duc­ing Dong Ho paint­ings. But due to chang­ing eco­nomic con­di­tions, Dong Ho paint­ings have grad­u­ally lost their po­si­tion.

“Most fam­i­lies in the village have now turned to mak­ing vo­tive pa­per to earn a liv­ing. Now there are only two clans in Dong Ho village who still fol­low the tra­di­tion of pro­duc­ing Dong Ho paint­ings,” says Che.

Mean­while, Kim Hoang paint­ings, which were also pop­u­lar items dur­ing Tet in Viet­nam, can now be found only in mu­se­ums or fine art gal­leries.

It is said that a flood in 1915 de­stroyed al­most all the orig­i­nal wood­blocks in the Kim Hoang village. Now, ex­perts are seek­ing ways to re­store this paint­ing genre, which orig­i­nated in the late 18th cen­tury.

Speak­ing about how the state is help­ing pre­serve and re­vive these tra­di­tions, Binh says: “Viet­nam has put sig­nif­i­cant ef­forts into pre­serv­ing tra­di­tional folk paint­ings, in­clud­ing build­ing a list of its na­tional in­tan­gi­ble cul­tural her­itage and restor­ing and de­vel­op­ing tra­di­tional craft vil­lages.

“But, the coun­try is fac­ing nu­mer­ous dif­fi­cul­ties in re­viv­ing tra­di­tional craft vil­lages. There are dif­fi­cul­ties in sourc­ing ma­te­ri­als, sup­port­ing ar­ti­sans, as well as en­abling the pass­ing down of the tra­di­tion to younger gen­er­a­tions.”

Even the Viet­namese peo­ple are sad at the dy­ing of the art.

Pham Cong, an 80-year-old res­i­dent of Hanoi who vis­ited the ex­hi­bi­tion, says: “It is a pity that many of Viet­nam’s tra­di­tional folk paint­ing gen­res have dis­ap­peared. The new gen­er­a­tion should learn about and de­velop the coun­try’s tra­di­tional paint­ing gen­res.”

The ex­hi­bi­tion will run for six months.


An ar­ti­san makes a Hang Trong paint­ing at the on­go­ing ex­hi­bi­tion at the Hanoi Mu­seum.

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