NDO – Over its 300-year history, the Thanh Tien paper flower making village is one of the attractive traditional craft villages in the ancient imperial city of Hue.
Lying downstream of the Huong (Perfume) River in Phu Mau commune, Phu Vang district, Thanh Tien village is famous for the craft of making paper flowers. Thanh Tien was recognised by the Thua Thien – Hue province as a traditional craft village in 2013.
The village’s products have been displayed at Hue festivals, Ao Dai festivals, and cultural events as well as exported to many countries.
The craft was practiced as part of the Hue people’s ancestor worship. As the climate in Hue city is hot and sunny in the dry season and humid and rainy in the wet season, cannot a long life for fresh flowers on the ancestors’ altar is difficult to achieve.
Therefore, Thanh Tien villagers made paper flowers as an offering to their ancestors and gods. Nowadays, their products have become decorative items for locals, particularly on the occasion of Tet (lunar New Year) festival.
Phan Thi Thanh’s workshop is one of the oldest shops in Thanh Tien village. Aged nearly 60, Thanh said that only 10 households in the village are still practicing the craft, with three of them providing instructions on making paper flowers.
According to her, all of the steps in making paper flowers are done manually. First, villagers must carefully select bamboo, dry, chop and slice it in order to make the pedicles and branches of the flowers. Then they dye paper to make petals, using natural colours extracted from local plants and without any chemicals.
The flowers are stuck into a straw stump and will then accompany street vendors to every corner of Hue city.
As the work requires a lot of time, meticulousness and skilfulness, a veteran craftsman can make only 15 to 20 paper flowers a day.
The price of the paper flowers ranges from VND5,000 for a pair of simple flowers such as rose, daisy and orchid to VND20,000 for a lotus.
The most complicated paper flower for the skills of the Thanh Tien craftsmen is the lotus. Only three out of ten households in the village can make paper lotus flowers, including Phan Thi Thanh’s.
According to Thanh, the most challenging steps are creating veins for the petals and assembling the petals.
A tourist trying her hand at making paper flowers at Thanh’s workshop.