Where weaving baskets remains a way of life

By Duc Hung    February 1, 2021 | 11:30 am GMT+7
More than 50 households in Ha Tinh Province's Thach Long Commune have preserved their traditional craft - bamboo baskets - to augment earnings from toiling on farms.
For the residents of Hoi Cat, Dan Trung and Nam Giang villages in Thach Long Commune, Thach Ha District, basket weaving is a skill that has been passed on through multiple generations for centuries.  In a modern society with the convenience of plastic and industrial products, the sight of women patiently sitting over weave bamboo strips is becoming rarer.

For the residents of Hoi Cat, Dan Trung and Nam Giang villages in Thach Long Commune, Thach Ha District, central Vietnam, basket weaving is a skill that has been passed on through multiple generations for centuries.
In a modern society with the convenience of plastic and industrial products, the sight of women patiently sitting over weave bamboo strips is becoming rarer.

Several households grow the raw material they need – bamboo, in their houses. Some products are made of a smaller variety of evergreen bamboo called nua (Schizostachyum aciculare), which is sourced from other communes in the district.

Several households grow the raw material they need – bamboo, in their houses. Some products are made of a smaller variety of evergreen bamboo called nua (Schizostachyum aciculare), which is sourced from other communes in the district.

A typical nua bamboo stem is around seven meters tall. These are cut to 60 cm lengths, and then to numerous thin strips.

A typical nua stem is around seven meters tall. These are cut to 60 cm lengths, and then to numerous thin strips.

Nguyen Huu Son, 80, of Nam Giang Village, prepares to make a type of basket called thung. From the bamboo section he is holding, hundreds of strips 1.5-2 millimeters thick are obtained.

Nguyen Huu Son, 80, of Nam Giang Village, prepares to make a type of baskets called thung. From the bamboo section he is holding, hundreds of strips 1.5-2 millimeters thick are obtained.

[Pham Chi Dan, 72, of Hoi Cat Village, ties up the rough strips into a bundle and massages them on a concave woodblock in order to refine them and remove unnecessary hairs.

Pham Chi Dan, 72, of Hoi Cat Village, ties up the rough strips into a bundle and "massages" them on a concave woodblock in order to refine them and remove unnecessary "hairs".

The strips are knit together to make mats, each taking about three hours. The mats are later folded to make baskets.

The strips are knit together to make mats, each taking about three hours. The mats are later folded to make baskets.

The bamboo baskets made here are mostly used to store farm produce like corn, rice, yam and peanut. The baskets are of different types - thung, ro, nong and nia.

The bamboo baskets made here are mostly used to store farm produce like corn, rice, yam and peanut. The baskets are of different types - called thung, ro, nong and nia in Vietnamese.

The mat is dried and seasoned over a flame. The longer it stays in the kitchen, the better the quality, said 70-year-old Nguyen Thi Lan.

The mat is dried and seasoned over a flame.
"The longer it stays in the kitchen, the better the quality," said 70-year-old Nguyen Thi Lan.

Son uses a leg to shape the mat, which is then fitted into a 70-centimeter diameter round frame.

Son uses a leg to shape the mat, which is then fitted into a 70-centimeter diameter round frame.

The baskets have a two-frame structure, an inner and an outer one. Rattan strings are used to tie the mat to the inserted frames.

The baskets have a two-frame structure, an inner and an outer one. Rattan strings are used to tie the mat to the inserted frames.

Pham Chi Dan’s granddaughters and grandson proudly hold some of the finished baskets made by their grandparents.A big basket is sold at VND50,000-55,000 ($2.2 - 2.4), a smaller, while flatter one costs from VND30,000.I can make 20 products in a month, including several types of baskets, and earn around VND1.5 million ($65). Other families with more people making them can make 40 baskets and earn VND3-4 million, Son said.

Pham Chi Dan’s granddaughters and grandson proudly hold some of the finished baskets made by their grandparents.
A big basket is sold at VND50,000-55,000 ($2.17 - 2.38), while a smaller, flatter one costs from VND30,000.
"I can make 20 products a month, including several types of baskets, and earn around VND1.5 million ($65). Other families with more people making them can make 40 baskets and earn VND3-4 million," Son said.

 
 
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