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Traditional Vietnamese Craft Restored Through Paper

In a mission to revive traditional Vietnamese craft in today’s modern world, artist Phan Hai Bang and his team invented a one-of-a-kind paper called Truc chi and incorporated it with contemporary art products.

Truc chi is made from bamboo pulp and produced with the same technique as making paper Poonah. Each sheet of paper is a work of art in itself with the addition of a special kind of graphic design at the end of the production stage. It has also been used to make other art products and even daily items like lantern, wallet, candle box, handbag, wall painting and table calendar. It had its trial production in 2002, introduced to the market as an ornamental item. Perhaps surprisingly, it gained popularity even in foreign countries like France, Belgium and Thailand.

Early this year, graphic design artists conducted a workshop in Hue on how to further develop local art forms. The activity yielded new printmaking techniques like book art, printmaking installation, truc chi papermaking, non-toxic lithograph and gumprint. Of all the styles, Truc chi was the majority choice both among amateur and veteran artists. It was also used in many competitions as raw material and won.

In today’s demanding market though, artists in traditional craft villages face certain obstacles. They have to train and equip themselves in other fields like bronze, bamboo, wood and leather processing in order to be competitive. They have to come up with a new approach such as incorporating the paper with other mediums to create unique products like leather wallets, jewelry box locks and frame holders, all with a touch of Truc chi.


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But although the modern market requires particular standards, the seasoned artists made sure that traditional skills and techniques will be preserved. In fact, no Truc chi product is mass-produced to maintain its authenticity and uniqueness. In every product released, there should also be at least one traditional mark. For example, a lantern with bai choi patterns, paper paintings showcasing traditional folk games or musical instruments and xam huong card-shaped bamboo bookmarker, all reflecting ancient and contemporary art styles.

On a short scale, artist Bang and his team envision creating amazing traditional Vietnamese art products to impress and be recognized in the international world of art. But in the big picture, they dream of restoring ancient Vietnamese craft and assimilate it into contemporary art, forging a new world where tradition and modern thrive in perfect harmony.


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