Tien Non Village: The origin of lacquer craft in Vietnam


Lacquer craft is an unusual type of folk art that fascinates a significant number of travelers in Vietnam. The trip to Tien Non Village, a famous lacquer village, set up by a Vietnam tour operator will give you a better understanding of this type of art.

Where is the village?

Lacquering is one of the two most extraordinary handicrafts in Vietnam together with sculpturing. In the old times, it appeared in every corner of a large number of architectural works. Most of the temples, pagodas, royal tombs and palaces were decorated and significantly imprinted by lacquer.


A lacquer painting

Furthermore, the noble family at that time fancied this type of art very much. They used it to ornament numerous pieces of furniture in their houses, such as horizontal lacquered boards, wood panels inscribed with parallel sentences, altars, and palanquins.

The origin of lacquer in Vietnam is Tien Non Village in Hue City. It is located in Phu Mau Commune of Phu Vang District. The traditional craft village is about 10 kilometers far from the center of the city. You will have a chance to discover it while taking trips organized by Vietnam local tour operators.

How to get there?

The most convenient way to get to the village is by motorcycle. If you can afford to rent a car, it will not take too much time to get there. The best routes for you to drive from the center of Hue City are Highway 49 and Highway 2.

Another vehicle that you can use is a tourist boat. It is recommended if you want to travel to some other sites, such as Hen Dune or Bao Vinh Ancient Town, on the way to Tien Non village. Boats for rent often anchor at Toa Kham Wharf so you can easily get one once you get there. Otherwise, just use services of the best tour operators in Vietnam and you will have to worry about nothing.

Why is it so attractive?

To understand the reason behind the appeal of the village, you have to acknowledge the exceptionality of the lacquer craft in Vietnam.


A phase in making lacquer paintings

Lacquer is a higher level of the common painting work that can be found in any country in the world. You can see it in many Asian nations, especially, China and Japan. However, if the Chinese and Japanese only use it to adorn handicraft products, the Vietnamese utilize it to draw paintings. This is the main difference between the lacquer craft of Vietnam and other countries.

Another major distinction is how lacquer is performed. In fact, its name in English cannot reveal all of its special traits in Vietnam in general and Tien Non Village in particular. In Vietnamese, lacquer craft is called “son mai.” “Son” means “to paint” and “mai” means “to grind ink.”

In short, lacquering can be simply explained as the action of grinding the ink on a painting or objects to make a work of art. This is why it is considered to carry the uniqueness and ethnicity of the Vietnamese. The lacquer works in Tien Non Village are sophisticated and magnificent.

If you participate in tours organized by Vietnam travel agencies and meet craftsmen in the village, you will see that there are about 25 phases in creating a lacquer painting. Nevertheless, there are four primary ones. The first one is to spread and tie a cloth made by material for mosquito-nets on a woodblock.


Profound tone

Then, a layer of paint will be applied to the cloth. And it will get sanded down in order to make the painting look smoother and more luxurious. Next, another coat of paint is layered to create the background for the drawing. It has some common colors which include red-brown, red, black, pure golden, and silver.

Finally, that background will get ground about 5 to 7 times before the painters start drawing on it. Depending on the complexity of each work of art, the artists will use an equal number of layers of paint. Due to this, lacquer paintings have a powerful charm.

Comparing to oil paintings, lacquer paintings in Tien Non Village have more profound and sumptuous tones. Therefore, they are perfect for the interior designs of the Vietnamese. They carry particular Asian traits, which can be plainly sensed by those who intensely love the traditional folk art in Vietnam.

When taking a trip to Tien Non Village, you can ask your Vietnam tour operator in case you want to buy a lacquer painting.

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