Vietnam handicrafts: what to buy for souvenirs?

Vietnam is a rich country in handicraft products thanks to laboriousness, ingenuity, and creativity of Vietnamese. The Vietnam handicrafts have been considered as a source of traditional products and an income source for locals. There are too many items which need to be introduced in full but below I just focus on some typical items below.

The ceramic products:

Vietnam ceramic handicrafts

The ceramic products have been manufactured in Vietnam for a long time. For example, glazed ceramic products with traditional methods have become the beautiful and famous works such as items in Bat Trang (Hanoi), Quang Ninh and Hai Phong.

In the North, there are the Bat Trang Pottery (Hanoi), the Dong Trieu Pottery (Quang Ninh), the Phu Lang Pottery (Bac Ninh), the Tho Ha Pottery (Bac Giang). While in the South, there are Sai Gon, Binh Duong and Bien Hoa Pottery (Dong Nai)…

Today Vietnam’s ceramic products are very rich: the small items such as toothpick holders, ashtrays; the medium-sized products such as vases, Buddha statues, girls, teapot sets, coffee pot sets, bowls, plates, flowerpot; the large-sized products such as Pedestal Elephant (đôn voi), Lo Doc Binh (lọ độc bình), etc.

The popular colors of glaze include celadon, eel skin glaze, light yellow glaze, glaze melt flow. The textures on these products are associated with the familiar features in life such as a boy fluting sits on a buffalo, banian tree in front of village gate, the temples of the lotus pond, girls is strumming. Nowadays, Vietnamese pottery products are available in many international markets.

The rattan or bamboo products:

Vietnam handicrafts - bamboo products

Bamboo, rattan trees are the specialty of the tropical Vietnam country. Therefore, they have become an endless material source of craftsmen who make these rattan and bamboo products. These items were present in The Paris Colonial Exhibition in 1931.

Up to now, more than 200 kinds of these products have appeared all over the five continents and are favored by many customers. With the skillful hands of craftsmen, the seemingly useless trees become the plates for fruit presentation, flower baskets, trays, vases, lampshades, and bookcases…

The advantages of bamboo and rattan products are lightweight, durable especially no insects. A typical example of this industry is that Phu Vinh bamboo and rattan village, Chuong My District, Ha Tay Province. It’s distant the center of Hanoi about 20 km. This Phu Vinh Village is famous for the beautiful and delicate bamboo, rattan products. There are hundreds of different samples and kinds.

The lacquer products:

Vietnam lacquer painting

All over the world, there are several countries make the lacquer products. Some countries can grow lacquer tree but only lacquer trees of Phu Tho Land in Vietnam are most valuable. The resin in Phu Tho is really better than resin in others. Thus, the Vietnamese lacquer products are always famous for its beauty and durability.

In the 18th century, Thang Long (Hanoi now) has had a Nam Ngu Ward specialized in making lacquer products. Initially, lacquer just has four colors: black, red, yellow and brown. Gradually, due to the development of science and technology, the color list of lacquer is rich increasingly creating magnificent and deep lacquer products.

Nowadays, many of them have become the indispensable items on the both domestic and international markets such as wall paintings, vases, jewelry boxes, cigarette boxes, trays, chessboard, and partition…

The mosaic products:

Vietnam mosaic product

The mosaicist uses pieces of textured iridescent pearl shells, mussel shells, sea snails to mosaic (attach) to the objects. Each mosaicist has to work really meticulously and each product must experience a lot of stages: drawing samples, grinding, sawing, craving for turning into many small pieces and people will mosaic (attach) to the object then being ground and polished one more time.

Finally, you will get a mosaic work with many shimmering colors. All the following things made wood can be mosaic from the wooden boxes, trays, chessboards, the surfaces of tables, chairs, the sides of cabinets, wall paintings to partitions,…

With 3260 km of coastline, the material source of mosaic in Vietnam is endless. The Chuyen My Commune (Phu Yen District, Hanoi) is a home of seven mosaic villages where are attracting many local workers as well as people from the surrounding areas in order to participate in the production.

The carved stone products:

Vietnam carved stones

This profession has existed since the dawn of human civilization from the creation of stone tools to building house, the great architecture as well as sculpture from the normal stones. This kind of material was used to build many of castles, ancient monuments, antiques, temples, and cities in several cultures.

The well-known buildings were created by carvers including Taj Mahal, the great stone wall surrounding the Cusco City, the Great Wall, the Pyramids, the Angkor Wat Temple, the great temple of Tenochtitlan, the Temple of Persepolis, the Parthenon or Stonehenge.

Nowadays, start with only the blocks of marble, carvers create several valuable products such as bracelets, ashtrays, Buddha statues, girl statues, flowers and ornamental plants, adorable animals: cats, peacocks.
This craving industry is popular in many places but it is famous in Da Nang. The foot of Ngu Hanh Son Mountain (Da Nang) has Quan Khai, Hoa Khe Villages and their villagers have the traditional stone carving.

The Embroidery products:

Vietnam embroidery handicraft

The majority of Vietnamese embroiderers are very skilled. They know how to mix dozens of types of colorful threads for only an embroidery work.

The kinds of embroidery products are very diverse even the embroidery samples are rich increasingly: lotus, chrysanthemum, dragon and phoenix, a pair of flamingos, a pair of lovebirds, landscape and portrait, etc.

Depend on the meaning of each item, embroiderer will choose a specific sample. There are samples for shirts, some for pillowcase, others for embroidering Kimono even there are a few samples for tablecloth, bedspread and mural painting…

Embroidery has appeared for a long time in many localities but perhaps it is derived from Quat Dong Village (Ha Tay). In the list of the old street names in Hanoi, there is the Hang Theu street name specializing in selling embroidery products (now it is the end of the Hang Trong street adjacent to the Le Thai To Street). In addition, today the system of silk embroidery XQ shop also helps tourists know and feel more about Vietnam’s culture and talent of embroiderers.

The jewelry products:

Vietnam jewelry products

From the 2nd century, Vietnamese knew how to use gold and silver to make jewelry. With this silver and gold jewelry industry, there are 3 different categories but they relate together closely.

Carving category: carve the drawings, patterns on the surfaces of products.

Dau category (nghề đậu bạc): Pulling gold, silver (after melting) into the long strands then blending to make the flowers, leaves, birds and attach to jewelry.

Tron category (nghề trơn): Specialize in polishing gold, silver into jewelry without needing to crave.
The products made from gold, silver are very diverse: rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, tableware (knives, forks, and spoons), glasses, mirror frames, powder boxes, combs, candle holders,etc.

Many of them have been exporting many countries. This gold jewelry industry is derived from the Dinh Cong Village (Hanoi) and the silver jewelry industry is originated from Dong Xam Village (Thai Binh). Today, Hanoi still has Hang Bac Street where has specialized in processing and selling gold and silver. Now, the shops of gold and silver jewelry mushroom all over the country.

The wood-carving products:

Vietnam wood carving products

The wood-carving profession has appeared in Vietnam for a long time and has reached a pretty high level. After a period of oblivion, from the early 80’s, the wood-carving profession flourished again. It can serve the both domestic and international demands (that means to export). The main products of this industry include wooden statues, tables and chairs, cabinets, and bed…

The companies in this industry all over the world with skilled craftsmen and artisans have created a lot of products having values in use and art.

A typical example is that The Phu Khe wood-carving village, in Phu Khe Commune (Phu Khe – Tu Son – Bac Ninh City) where is distant Hanoi 20km southbound. In the past, the demand of building palaces, citadels is very big so the skilled, talented workers came to Phu Khe. Gradually, this famous village has been formed until now.