Culture Culture

13/03/2018 - 08:12

Truc chi – the national gift

After the official spring visit to Hue, the departures of the Emperor and Empress of Japan was accompanied by a special gift made by “Truchigraphy” - with the symbolic image of Ngo Mon Gate crafted with sophistication and subtlety.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko (holding flowers) entered Ngo Mon Gate during a visit to Hue in early March 1977. Ngo Mon Gate is the symbol chosen to be featured on Trúc Chỉ art to offer to the two special guests

Via the diplomatic staff, the national artefact was presented to the Emperor and Empress during their stay in Hue. This special gift has deeply impressed the two national visitors.

Japanese Emperor and Empress was fascinated and impressed

Hue city was filled with joy during the Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko’s official visit. All sites in the tour schedule of the two special guests have seen warm welcome of the locals. In return, the Emperor and Empress always lingered for a little longer to wave and greet people with gentle smiles.

While everything from security to hospitality service was strictly enforced, the artists at Truc chi art workshop were similarly nervous. Their responsibility was to create a gift of diplomacy to offer the two guests, concluding their meaningful visit to Hue city. 

Artist Phan Hai Bang, founder of Vietnam Truc chi Art Project, was assigned the main task. "Accepting the mission, I was both happy and worried. ‘Happy’ because Truc chi was highly appreciated, but ‘worry’ because the Land of cherry blossoms was long famous for its particular delicate art. Thus creating a gift to satisfy both the Emperor and Empress was by no means simple,” Hai Bang shared. That was not to mention the endless questions triggering him at first on what figures to display on the artefact, what sizes, and how to design an appropriate electric power system.

After discussing with the Department of Foreign Affairs, the group finally decided to craft Ngo Mon artwork on Truc chi background. All must ensure the aesthetics and cultural identity of Hue ancient capital. Most importantly, the gift should be able to demonstrate the respect of the people and the Thua Thien Hue government to the Japanese Emperor and Empress.

Surprisingly, this special gift has truly impressed the Emperor and Empress. "On meeting the leaders of the province, the Emperor and the Empress expressed their deepest gratitude and appreciation to Thua Thien Hue authorities and people for their unique gift," said Tran Cong Phu, Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The image of Ngo Mon Gate on Truc chi background was framed separately using sophisticated fine lines

“National artefact” for the national guests

Why Truc chi and what was crafted on the gift intrigued many people, as Hue is known for various valuable local specialties. For the artists who made this product, it was a great pride to contribute their craftsmanship to fulfilling the diplomatic mission - a visit that marked a milestone in the relations between Vietnam and Japan.

Truc chi is a very new art form of Hue, highly appreciated by the value of "traditional acculturation," employing the traditional handicraft in a flexible way. After careful discussion and consultation, the provincial People's Committee decided to have "National artefact" gift made with Trucchigraphy. 

The order was agreed to feature the symbolic Ngo Mon Gate, as this site was included in the visit schedule of the Emperor and Empress. But it did not turn out to be an easy task. Artist Phan Hai Bang spent a lot of time and effort exploring and creating the gift.

Nguyen Phuoc Nhat, a young artist in charge of design, mentioned the high pressure to create such a special gift. "This gift must represent the cultural and artistic value of Hue to the two national visitors, so we have to be very meticulous and careful in every detail, especially how to feature the picture with highest artistic value,”  Nhat recalled.

After the size of 40cm x 50cm is confirmed, the biggest challenge lies in the shaping process: how to depict Ngo Mon gate using water pressure techniques combined with graphic art principles. This task took up nearly a week, followed by several failures and completed after a month.

The image of Ngo Mon on Truc chi background was framed separately using sophisticated fine lines. Under natural light, the Ngo Mon gate was imprinted in a particularly artistic way. Unlike common products made of Truc chi, whose light effect is created by connecting to a direct power source, the product dedicated to the Emperor and Empress was exclusively designed to run with battery.

The implementing group had a breath of relief on knowing the Emperor and Empress’s positive reaction to the gift. 

"We are very proud and happy by contributing a small part to showing the friendliness of Hue and Vietnam to the Land of cherry blossoms,” artist Phan Hai Bang once again shared.

Story: Phan Thanh

Photos: Phan Thanh, Truc Chi