Sinh Village paintings printed on sesame candy packaging bring pleasure to customers
The land with many folk painting lines
For ages, talking about Hue folk paintings, people have only mentioned Sinh Village paintings. In fact, Hue folk paintings also have many other lines: hand-drawn folk paintings, traditional lacquer paintings, mother-of-pearl mosaics, glass paintings, embroidered paintings, Chuon Village folk trướng (silk cloth embroidered with words or pictures used as an offering or gift) liễn (strip of cloth or paper used in pairs to write parallel sentences hung in parallel) paintings, mural paintings, etc. For example, the famous mother-of-pearl mosaics are made in the villages of Dia Linh, Bao Vinh, and Nam Pho. Those villages have the talented mother-of-pearl inlay artisans.
However, the folk painting lines are under threat of disappearance. For example, the line of Chuon Village trướng liễn paintings was once a genre of old Vietnamese woodblock paintings.
From the early 20th century, trướng liễn artisans used the dyed newspapers to coat with wide or narrow sizes according to the dimension of the door (hung with paintings) in conformity with the principle of “lòng điều – kế lục – chỉ vàng” (red center- green border - yellow edge) and then printed with letters and decorative motifs.
Later, when trướng, liễn in velvet brocade were imported, Chuon Village liễn paintings gradually sank into oblivion and were in danger of being lost. Silk paintings mainly with watercolor paintings were formerly drawn on silk in black ink (Chinese ink), so many people do paintings. Afterwards, when modern painting materials such as oil paint, acrylic ... appeared, very few painters pursued the job of silk painting. Silk paintings are no longer under the "auspicious" theme of folklore but diverse in topics through the eyes of a few professional painters...
Associated with the folk painting lines are the folk artisans who have quietly, diligently followed in the footsteps of their forebears. However, not all lines of paintings have perfect successive generations. Most suffer a worrisome lack of successive diligence.
For example, the glass paintings are of two types: court glass paintings and folk glass paintings. As for the court glass paintings, the Gia Long dynasty had artisans Le Quang Dinh and Trinh Hoai Duc well-known for watercolor painting; later, the Nguyen dynasty had the exquisite glass paintings.
Besides, Hue also had folk glass paintings, mainly in service of folk beliefs, religions... Court paintings faded into oblivion, and folk paintings are also very difficult to find.
One of the painting lines, which has been handed down so far, is the Sinh Village folk painting. Many researchers held that Sinh Village paintings appeared in the 19th century. This folk craft has been passed down to the 9th generation of artisan family Ky Huu Phuoc.
Sinh Village folk paintings flourished in the early 20th century thanks to serving the folk beliefs that thrived in Hue then. Aside from serving religious beliefs such as paper money, votive paper offerings..., Sinh Village paintings also manifest the village and commune activities in the old days.
Folk paintings and tourism
On top of the history and diversity of Hue folk paintings, there are a lot of little-known hidden values. For example, doing the amulet paintings for shamans to worship in service of the people’s religious needs is also a thing not many people fully grasp.
In Bao Vinh, the famous family of artisan Le Truong Huy does paintings of bùa bát quái (Eight Trigram charms), bùa thượng lương (amulets for putting a beam to create a rooftop when a new house is built). Thua Thien Hue also has many other hand-drawn folk painting artisans such as Mr. Cao Van Thien, Phan. Duy Vu… It is the unique hand-drawn lines that prompt tourists to access and explore.
In 2018, Hanoi Museum held an exhibition with the participation of 12 lines of folk paintings across the country, including Sinh Village folk paintings, Thua Thien Hue mirror paintings. It is widely believed that if how to tap is known, the folk paintings of Vietnam in general and those of Thua Thien Hue in particular will be a very special destination of the tourism industry.
In reality, since 2000, Sinh Village folk painting artisans have been invited by the authorities to join in Hue Festival. The artisans demonstrated how to do Sinh Village paintings ahead of international tourists and achieved great success.
The artisans added creativity to the paintings by coating điêp powder on paintings printed on dó paper (paper is used for painting in Vietnamese folk art) with different themes, which was previously exclusively for printing paintings for trang ông, trang bà (altars for patron god or goddess). These decorative paintings reflect rural activities such as plowing the field, transplanting rice seedlings, harvesting rice, folk games such as kéo co (tug of war), bài chòi (a typical folk game in Central Vietnam), thế vật đứng (standing wrestling posture), bài chòi festival... Since then, Sinh Village has welcomed millions of tourists from all over the world to visit and view the craft shows.
The Department of Culture and Sports proposed a number of mechanisms and policies for collecting, preserving and promoting traditional art values at risk of being lost in the province. The types of fine arts at risk of being lost include traditional lacquer paintings, vitreous enamel paintings, glass paintings, Sinh Village paintings, Chuon Village paintings, mother-of-pearl mosaics, and traditional silk paintings.
The accompanying policies are aimed at supporting the preservation and promotion of traditional fine art values... These mechanisms, if implemented, will exert a good impact on promoting the lines of folk paintings for Hue tourism development.
On the occasion of Tết (Lunar New Year) 2022, despite the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, Sinh Village folk paintings sold like hot cakes. On top of religious worship paintings, artisans created many more new designs. For example, Sinh Village artisans made the molds for printing 12 small-sized zodiac animals and sell them at an acceptable price for families to buy for children.
Many viewers of the printing molds expressed their opinion that the printing of Sinh Village paintings with such molds should be introduced into schools for students to practice during local education hours. As far as tourism is concerned, it is advisable for tourists to try printing on the spot and then buy a mold to bring home as a gift. It is also a marvelous product.
Story and photo: DANG TRINH