Artisans add the magic touch as Saigon gears up for full moon party

By Thanh Nguyen   September 18, 2017 | 05:04 pm PT
This 50-year-old craft village is scrambling to finish the multicolored lanterns that will light up the festival.

There's a festive spirit in the air at Phu Binh residential complex in Saigon’s District 11, where most houses are filled with colorful lanterns. Migrants from the northern province of Nam Dinh set up shop here around half a century ago, and have been making lanterns ever since.


This family is all hands on. They started preparing materials months ago and plan to produce more than 2,000 lanterns for customers in the city, Da Nang and provinces further south.


Nguyen Duc Thang splits a bamboo stick to make lantern frames. “One person can make up to 40 frames a day,” he said.


Thang said making a lantern is a painstaking process that starts with drying and chopping the bamboo and finishes with adding the final strokes of color to the glass paper. The lanterns can fetch from VND60,000 ($2.64) to VND800,000 ($35). Thang said he works in construction as a second job.


A dragon in the making. Glass paper lanterns have regained their popularity in Vietnam in recent years amid a rising boycott of Chinese electronic toys. Many parents, either feeling nostalgic or guilty about giving their children too much screen time, also want them to be unplugged and more involved in something traditional.


A phoenix is made from steel rods which are easier to bend than bamboo.


This giant chicken has been tailor made for one buyer.


Delivery lanterns. A dealer said the city has also received orders from Singapore and Thailand, which also celebrate the full moon festival in the eighth lunar month.

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