Author: Dạ Hiếu

Wooden folk statues plays a special role in the cultural and spiritual life of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands (Ba Na, J’rai, Ede…) and have become a simple art form unique to the people here. With a rudimentary and primitive way of carving, artisans only use axes, knives, chisels, saws… to breath life into wooden statues with all shades of emotions: joy, sadness, anxiety. Each piece of wooden folk statue here has a different feeling and appearance and contains a sacred soul as if it exudes the essence of the mountains and forests of the Central Highlands.

According to the custom of the community of ethnic groups in the Central Highlands, there are three types of statues: the statue of the tomb house, the statue of the communal house and the statue of the stilt house. If a wooden statue is placed in the tomb for the dead, the statue in the stilt house is for the living.

In the past, Tay Nguyen wooden folk statues were created to serve religious activities with many spiritual elements. Currently, along with the development of modern society, wooden statues have been used a lot in life, as a decorative product in many places such as restaurants, parks, etc. Tay Nguyen folk wooden products has gone beyond the villages, introduced and promoted the region’s culture to tourists near and far.

Artisan Y Thai Eban , Kmrong Prong B village, Ea Tu commune, Buon Ma Thuot, Dak Lak

During more than 30 years carving traditional wooden statue of Ede ethnic group, artisan Y Thai Eban has created thousands of different works, describing the culture, life, spirit and personality of Ede people in the past three decades in each of his works.

The work called “Visiting the fields” shows a man carrying a “xa gac” (a type of knife used by ethnic minorities in Central Highlands), with his wife carrying a small child in front and rice in the back, going to the fields by artisan Y Thai Eban won the first prize in the statue carving contest held in Kon Tum province.

Artisan Y Thai Eban often sculpts statues according to the meaning of each month, because the scene of activities and beliefs of the Central Highlands people is very clear. Each season has different worshiping ceremonies. In March, 4 statues are associated with the rituals of worshiping the wharf, praying for health and visiting the fields; In May and June, statues are associated with rice cultivation, offerings to rice plants and seed planting ceremony, etc.

With his passion for the profession, artisan Y Thai also inspires the preservation and transmission of the profession to the younger generation.

Vietnamese folk paintings have a very long history and are a symbol of beliefs, desires, aesthetic and artistic values that are popular in the cultural life of Vietnamese people. According to historical studies, around the 12th century, villages specialized in wood carving and painting began to appear.

Along with the ups and downs of the country through historical periods, and the development of society, nowadays folk paintings are no longer seen much in modern life, only preserved in museums. Because of that, craft villages or households that make paintings also disappear or operate in moderation.

With the desire that folk paintings are not only a heritage that needs to be preserved but can be integrated with contemporary life, young artist Xuan Lam has renewed the treasure of Vietnamese folk paintings in a very creative way with the application of modern graphic techniques. The folk paintings, instead of being made with wood plank printing technique, were recreated by Xuan Lam by combining the rough hand-drawing of pencil on paper with the characteristicly soft and vibrant color transition technique of modern graphics. What makes Xuan Lam’s works “redrawing folk paintings ” is the familiarity of the folk paintings that have not been lost, but they have become alive and fresh, relevant, with a more contemporary life.

The collection displayed in the exhibition “The Beauty of Vietnamese craft villages” at the Coffee World Museum is part of two projects: “Redrawing folk paintings” , the first project implemented by Xuan Lam in 2016; and the project “The Meeting between Past and Present” implemented in 2019.

The works in the collection are mainly Hang Trong, Dong Ho paintings such as Five tigers, Beautiful ladies, Carp looking at the moon, Peaceful mankind or Chicken and roses. These are original paintings that were once decorated by Vietnamese people in each spring or given to relatives as a wish for blessings for the new year.


  1. Beautiful ladies- Hang Trong folk painting:

“Beautiful ladies” can be considered as a typical representative of the Hang Trong folk painting series, belonging to the Tu Binh genre with the image of 4 Vietnamese girls in ancient costumes with 4 different poses: one plays the flute, one plays the senh tien instrument (a combination of clapper, rasp, and jingle), one holds the fan, one plays the lute. All of them contribute to portraying the figure, beauty of the soul and talent of Vietnamese women. Besides the ladies, there are also 4 flowers representing the 4 seasons of Vietnam: peach blossom – spring, lotus flower – summer, chrysanthemum – autumn, peony – winter. The picture shows affluence and luck for all four seasons of the year.

  1. Peacock – Hang Trong folk painting

The painting “Peacock” implies a wish for fame and fortune. Peacock makes an impression on viewers with its iridescent feathers, spreading out in the shape of a fan. The point throughout the picture is the image of a peony, which is known as the “Queen of Flowers”.

  1. Five tigers – Hang Trong folk painting

In Vietnamese folk beliefs, tiger is an animal with the divine power to destroy demons. In traditional families, Five tigers paintings were often hung at the altar dedicated to “Mr. Thirty”, under the altar to worship gods or Buddha. Painting of the year of the tiger with five colors showing the five elements, the layout is full and balanced on the paper, each man has a posture: standing, sitting, riding on clouds and surfing the wind.. All of them exude the intense vitality of the “king of the forest”.

  1. Carp looks at the moon – Hang Trong folk painting

The painting “Carp looks at the moon” has a combination of the image of the Carp (symbolizing the consciousness and energy to rise up in life) with the Moon (symbolizing the fullness, integrity, and perfection), as a wish for a new year full of achievements.

  1. The Crane – folk painting of Nghe An province

The crane is the leading species in the feather family, called “the best bird” and has the character of a gentleman and purity. In the picture, the image of a crane with a firm and majestic posture shows resilience and strength. In addition, the image of the crane also has many other meanings such as longevity, erudition and regal life.

  1. Peaceful mankind – Dong Ho folk painting

According to folklore, the peacock is an animal symbolizing beauty and noble dignity. In addition, it is also believed that hanging pictures of peacocks in the house will help ward off evil spirits.

7.The  Chicken and Roses – Dong Ho folk painting

The ancient Vietnamese believed that the rooster was the symbol for the five characters of a brave man: facilities with literature and material art, bravery, humanity, and trust. The rose next to the rooster symbolizes the image of the rooster crowing to the sun, representing vitality and luck.

  1. Chicken family– Dong Ho folk painting

The picture shows a chicken family consisting of roosters, hens and chicks. On the picture, there is the inscription “many children, many grandchildren, like father like son“. The hens create a a spiral layout, representing a coddle. The rooster is placed in a trapezoid layout creating the head of the family position, providing shelter for the hens and chicks. The picture evokes a happy, warm atmosphere in a family.

  1. Pigs – Dong Ho folk painting

Dong Ho painting depicts a herd of piglets gathered around their mother, expressing the wish for a peaceful and prosperous life, with numerous children and grandchildren. People often give gifts to newlyweds to wish them soon have children.

Painter Xuan Lam

  • Born in 1993, majoring in Painting, Vietnam University of Fine Arts
  • Solo exhibition “Redrawing folk paintings” (2017); “The Meeting of Past and Present” (2019)
  • Participating in the implementation of many art projects such as: Public Art on Phung Hung Street (Hanoi – 2018); Contemporary Art in the National Assembly House (Hanoi – 2018); Phuc Tan – Song Hong public art project (Hanoi – 2020). Most recently, his lacquer work was displayed at the Vietnam Pavilion at the International Exhibition (Dubai – 2021) ;…
  • Won the award of the German Embassy on the occasion of the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany – Vietnam ; First prize in 16th “Contemporary Art Day” of the Italian Embassy.
  • In 2021, Xuan Lam was invited by the Dutch Ambassador to Vietnam to perform a work showing the cultural connection and good relationship between the two countries. In addition, he also received certificates of merit from Hoan Kiem District as well as the National Assembly House for his creations.



Lotus leaf hat

Since ancient times, under the influence of the tropical monsoon climate with lots of sunshine and rain, the ancient Vietnamese people learned how to invent the conical hat. It is used to combine leaves to make items to wear on the head to cover the sun and rain. Gradually, conical hats appeared as a necessary item in daily life. The predecessor image of the conical hat was carved on the Ngoc Lu bronze drum and the Dao Thinh bronze jar around 2500 – 3000 BC.

Traditional hat making villages are in all three regions of the country such as: Chuong village (Thanh Oai, Hanoi); Dao Khe village (Nghia Hung, Nam Dinh); Phu Gia (Phu Cat, Binh Dinh); Thoi Tan (Thoi Lai, Can Tho)… and famous hat making villages, most concentrated in Thua Thien Hue such as: Da Le, Phu Cam, Doc So, Trieu Tay, Kim Long, Sia…

With the advantage of being born and raised in the land of Thua Thien Hue with a specialty of Vietnamese conical hats, young artist Nguyen Thanh Thao created and breathed life into traditional white conical hats, giving them a perfect appearance, completely different with unique patterns, textures and colors from lotus leaves.

Nguyen Thanh Thao’s lotus leaf conical product won the A prize of the Innovation Startup Competition of Thua Thien Hue province in 2018 and was loved by many visitors and was selected as a typical display product in Hue Festival 2019 .

Painter Nguyen Thanh Thao

  • Born in 1988, majoring in Visual Graphics, Hue University of Fine Arts
  • Founded the brand Nha Sen – Sen Thao in 2017
  • In addition to creating conical hats with products from lotus, Nguyen Thanh Thao also researches and creates many products applied with lotus: 3D paintings from dried lotus leaves, fashion bags from lotus leaves, … and many other products. Other handicraft products include caskets, vases, lanterns…

In Vietnam, traces of lacquer craft have been found since many centuries BC. The most primitive lacquer artefacts preserved today are gilded wooden or earthen statues from the Le Dynasty in around the 15th century.

To create a product, the lacquer worker must go through 9-10 different stages, from making the body (core); bundling the cuttings so that the product is waterproof, free from termites and shrinkage due to weather; color spraying; decorating; grinding; Polishing… Traditional lacquer is categorized into 3 basic types: optical paint used on rattan, bamboo and wooden items such as boxes, trays, etc. with light dyeing is very common ; gilded lacquer is often used in noble, solemn and sacred places such as: high and narrow tables, worshiping statues, couplets, palanquins…; and embossed lacquer is the most unique technique, used and crafted in interior decoration, royal palace with many rich and sophisticated pattern details.

Famous Vietnamese lacquer villages still exist nowadays include: Ha Thai village (Thuong Tin, Hanoi); Cat Dang village (Y Yen, Nam Dinh); Tuong Binh Nghiep village (Thu Dau Mot, Binh Duong)…

The pinnacle of lacquer is the art of lacquer painting, which was very developed in Vietnam in the early 20th century, creating a unique painting style for Indochina fine arts.

Vietnamese Fine Arts Lacquer Factory “Maison – Sonmai”

Lacquer brand “Maison – Sonmai” is located in the traditional Ha Thai lacquer village, Hanoi. The products are crafted by artisans based on traditional lacquer – inlaid pearls, carefully crafted by hands. The iridescent color of mussels and snails contrasts on a black or red lacquer background create a magical and luxurious effect, but still retains the traditional features.

Vietnamese fine art uses ancient Vietnamese patterns, rearranges the layout, contemporary dithering, bringing a new creative, modern, highly applicable, and aesthetic style to a traditional product.

theMay – a creative jewelry brand made from handmade fabrics by ethnic minority women in Vietnam, founded by Vu Thi Thanh Van, a young girl with a strong love for brocade and traditional culture.

Vu Thi Thanh Van’s idea of starting a business with traditional handmade products came from her business trips, when she could not find culturally specific products suitable for contemporary fashion to give as gifts to her friends and colleagues. Since then, she has researched to design jewelry products, accessories based on brocade of ethnic minorities: Ba Na, Cham … and Bau Truc pottery, Ninh Thuan.

theMay product is a combination of traditional brocade material and modern design with uniqueness – applicability – artistry, with the desire that when it comes to Vietnamese fashion, we not only have Ao Dai (“long dress”), Non La (“conical hat”) but also products from Tho Cam (brocade).

Immediately upon launch, theMay’s products have received the attention and acceptance of many young people because of their creative, diverse designs that are easy to be combined with many contemporary fashion styles.

Vu Thi Thanh Van – Founder & CEO of theMay

  • Born in 1993, majoring in foreign economics – Foreign Trade University, Ho Chi Minh City
  • 4 years working at Asahi Kasei Corporation, one of the largest energy and chemical groups in Japan.
  • Established theMay brand in 2018, creating exclusive jewelry designs from handmade fabrics by ethnic minority women in Vietnam with the goal of promoting Vietnamese culture through fashion.
  • Typical collections: Po Inu Nagar (the goddess who created Champa); Sunshine and Moonlight (symbol of Ba Na ethnic culture), Tet – Moment (inspired by Vietnamese Lunar New Year); Ariyana (inspiration of Cham culture)…

With a hobby of collecting Converse shoes and a passion for researching Vietnamese antiques; growing up in a family with a tradition of researching ethnic musical instruments and collecting Hue royal antiquities, young painter La Quoc Bao began a creative journey, breathing life into Converse shoes with the program called “Finding Vietnamese costumes” and especially the project “Thousand years of caps and robes”.

During a visit to Huynh Thuy Le ancient house, La Quoc Bao was impressed by the beauty of the old house, which inspired him to combine the decorative motifs and patterns of the Nguyen Dynasty of Huynh Thuy Le ancient house with Converse shoes whose design has remained unchanged over the past 100 years. And from there, the first shoes of the Annam Heritage collection were born.

The Annam Heritage collection was created by La Quoc Bao on the background of Hue royal art and architecture, with the first set of designs being based on the pattern of the “Nhat Binh” shirt. This is a typical Vietnamese traditional royal clothes, which is reserved for the Queens, princesses and ladies of the Nguyen Dynasty. They are followed by ideas from mandarin vestments, Hue Citadel dragon curtain, Cuu Long An Van mural, etc.

In addition to the unique design that is a blend of tradition and modernity, the products of the Annam Heritage collection are meticulously and fully hand-painted to create unique shoes in limited quantities. Immediately upon launch, shoes like La Quoc Bao’s artworks were well received in many countries around the world, especially the overseas Vietnamese community.

The “Annam Heritage” collection was honored to be selected to participate in WORLD EXPO 2020, which took place in Dubai from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022.


  1. Dai Dia Giai The work about the four mascots in Eastern culture: dragon, tiger, phoenix, and turtle is painted on a beige background dyed with Trung Nguyen Legend coffee.
  2. “Huyền” Nhat Binh
  3. “Chánh hoàng” Nhat Binh
  4. “Cam bích” Nhat Binh
  5. Nghien Hoa Ky Phuc is inspired by the Nguyen Dynasty’s ao dai, made of black silk fabric with “flower motifs”.
  6. Nghien Hoa Ky Phuc inspired by the Nguyen Dynasty’s Ao Dai made of blue silk fabric
  7. Dragon curtain with natural luminous effect technique

Painter La Quoc Bao

  • Born in 1997, majoring in Architectural Design at Monash University (Melbourne, Austrailia)
  • Independent cultural researcher/artist
  • Founder of the brand BARO
  • With the BARO brand, in addition to a collection inspired by Vietnam’s Hue royal motifs, La Quoc Bao also pays special attention to countries with similar culture and writing, including China, Japan, South Korea andVietnam and has released products, like “Splendor of Ryukyu” which describes the hand-painted Bingata dress of the ancient country of Ryukyu (now Okinawa).
  • The “Annam Heritage” shoe collection inspired by the art of the Nguyen Dynasty of La Quoc Bao was honored to be selected to participate in the World Expo 2021-2022.
  • Currently implementing the project of recreating Nguyen’s court dress “Hoa Quan Le Phuc” with CGI artist Nguyen Phung Minh Luan. The first work inspired by Nam Phuong Empress’s costumes has been released, with the participation of actress Pham Nguyen Lan Thy – the muse “Bich Diem” in the upcoming movie “Me and Trinh”.


Handmade paper craft appeared in Vietnam quite early, from about the 3rd century (AD). Historical documents recorded that Roman merchants bought tens of thousands of sheets of honey scented paper from the Giao Chi; A book called “Ten strange stories” of a Chinese author surnamed Wang,  the Giao Chi people knew how to make paper from moss taken from the seabed, called Trac Ly paper… from the 4th century. Today, we can still see “dó paper”, “sắc phong paper”, “điệp paper”, etc., which are handmade papers that are still preserved and developed in Vietnam.

With a concept to make paper no longer play a background role but become an independent work, Truc Chi (bamboo paper) art is one of the achievements of the Grassroots Science Research Project – Hue University called: “Researching and making paper from local materials, applying it to teaching, learning and composing art” – code: DHH 2013-05-08 by painter Phan Hai Bang – lecturer at University of Arts – Hue University.

Since then, the technical term system “Trucchi Graphics/Trucchigraphy” has been a new system of graphic technical terms from Vietnam in the world.

Trucchi is crafted by with the combination of the traditional paper craft dating back thousands of years and the principles of Graphic arts.

Truc Chi is the name of Paper Art – Vietnamese art paper, as bamboo is a symbol of Vietnamese culture and spirit. Accordingly, the main idea of Truc Chi is to give the paper the ability to get out of the background role to become a self-made, independent artwork. If Washi (Hoa chi) is a word for Japanese handmade paper, and Hanji (Han chi) is a word for Korean craft paper (not just a specific type of material), then Truc Chi is a Vietnamese paper craft word to identify a new type of paper-art of the Vietnamese people.

Truc Chi uses a variety of materials available locally for the crafting: straw, bamboo, duckweed, sugarcane, banana, grass… Truc Chi art has high adaptability to the visual arts. art) and applied art (design) and is used by many designers in interior decoration.

The process of creating bamboo paintings

Truc Chi/trucchigraphy graphics is a combination and improvisation on 3 elements:

– The traditional handmade paper making process.

– The technique of creating water pressure on paper

– The principles of graphic art (the principle of metal engraving / etching) are creatively researched and tested in the working process.

The principle of Truc Chi graphic design is to use water pressure to peel off layers of pulp to create a thin or thick layer, corresponding to the colors of Truc Chi works when interacting with light. This is what makes the difference and the characteristics of each work.

Each bamboo painting is just a unique, imprinted work. To create a work, the artist needs to perform the following basic steps: choosing raw materials and processing, soaking in lime water, cooking for 12 hours continuously; grinding raw materials into powder; creating wet paper, then creating images and patterns according to the ideas on the wet paper under water pressure pen to create a thin or thick layer of the picture, as well as the embossment of the pattern based on the artist’s idea; expose the painting to direct sunlight (or drying it ) until it is processed and finished.

Currently, after 10 years of development, Truc Chi Art Vietnam project has its main office in Hue, and branches in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

“Hue in the heart of Hue” collection

The Truc Chi collection is displayed at the exhibition “the Beauty of Vietnamese craft villages” with the theme “Hue in the heart of Hue” with the aim of using art installation to introduce tourists Hue ancient capital, the region’s heritage with traditional values and contemporary art.


– Lien Hoa Ho Tinh (Lotus flower in Tinh Lake): An installation work consisting of 5 lotus paintings of 110x300cm forming a pentagon. Number 5 is the central number that can be used to remind the historical position of Hue in the history. In addition, in cultural stories, Hue has its own color palette called Hue Five Colors, consisting of 5 colors: red, yellow, purple, blue, cyan.

– The Nine Tripod Cauldrons: A painting with motifs of images on Cuu Dinh (“The nine tripod cauldrons): Vietnam’s natural resources in one piece.

– The Pink Spring: a decorative painting

– The Empty Mind: a version of the work Empty Mind. The meaning of the set of Truc Chi paintings: Buddha is formless, Buddha is in our mind.

– The meditation scene:

– Painting “Born”

Folk music plays an important role in the spiritual life of ethnic minorities in the Central Highlands. Simulating the sounds of mountains and forests, the music here has the characteristics of primitive music, with rudimentary musical instruments made from copper, bamboo, leaves, wood, stone, beeswax and gourd. … It simulates the sounds and sights of nature as well as thoughts and feelings in community life…

In addition to Gongs forming the “Gong Cultural Space” recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Central Highlands ethnic minorities’s spiritual life is also linked together through many musical instruments, such as: lithophone, T’rung (a traditional bamboo xylophone), bamboo instruments like dinh nam (a wind instrument), dinh puot, tak-ta…

Artist Y Bhiong Nie (Ama H’loan)

Y Bhiong Nie is the most famous Central Highlands musical instrument artisan in Dak Lak province. Having held the role of Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Youth Union and working in the Propaganda Department of Dak Lak Provincial Party Committee, he understands the importance of preserving and developing local folklore.

With a deep understanding of the Ede ethnic culture, the Central Highlands culture, he himself has conducted extensive research, traveled all over the region to listen to stories and successfully crafted and restored many types of musical instruments for the spiritual life of the community.

Not only being good at crafting, artisan Y Bhiong Nie skillfully masters the structure as well as performed from traditional musical bamboo instruments to Ede gongs such as the five-pipe trumpet (6-pipe trumpet). He is also one of the rare artisans in Dak Lak who holds the secret of creating the most accurate and rich sound and rhythm for each musical bamboo instrument. He has the ability to assess sound and tune the gong in accordance with the standards of traditional Ede folk music .

In addition, the artist also participates in many gong training classes to teach the younger generation how to perform and how to tune the gong.


According to historical studies, Vietnam is one of a few countries with the earliest bronze casting craft in the world, from the late Neolithic, early Bronze Age. By the Dong Son period from around the 7th century BC to the 6th century AD, the bronze casting of the Vietnamese reached the peak.

Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village (Quang Nam), formed around the beginning of the 17th century, was established to forge weapons as well as household items to serve the Nguyen lords at that time. In addition to fine art products such as bells, crests, musical instruments, fine art objects… Phuoc Kieu bronze casting village is also famous for its gongs produced for the Central Highlands and ethnic minorities in Vietnam.

With diverse and quality products, in recent years, Phuoc Kieu craft village’s products have been sold not only in domestic market but they have also reached out to the world market through export and tourism channels.

Production process

In order to produce the best quality products, bronze casting workers have to go through 7 basic stages: preparing raw materials; prototyping; creating molds; melting raw materials; pouring mold; Remove the mold and complete the detailed product…

Particularly, for products that create sounds such as gongs, bells, musical instruments, etc., it is necessary for the worker to go through listening, testing and adjusting stages. Every step in the copper casting process requires the worker to be meticulous, skillful and have their own experience.

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