Handicraft villages in Hue

Being the last citadel of the country, Hue has attracted many skillful handicraftsmen across the country, and many villages found by those gifted ones are still here today.

The cultural context of the handicraft villages

The high manager board under the Nguyen Dynasty ordered the most skillful men with more than 20 years of experience to Hue to serve Royal’s demands. Some other handicraft men saw the opportunity and went to the citadel. Thus they found various handicraft villages, including wood carving, knitting, flower making, painting, metalwork, jewelry, pottery, and food.

Although many of them have disappeared, some outstanding ones remain until now. Listed bellowed you are the most notable ones to visit once you come to Hue.

Duong Xuan Copper Casting Village. Photo by Thai Hoang/ laodong.vn

Duong Xuan Copper Casting Village

The copper casting village is believed to have its origin in the Northern provinces, specifically Bac Ninh and Thanh Hoa, as the heritage copper goods bear many typical northern decorative patterns. This village situates along the bank of the Huong River, near Da Vien Bridge, and only 3 km from the city center.

Duong Xuan Copper Casting Village. Photo by Thai Hoang/ laodong.vn

Under the Nguyen reign, this village thrived and was responsible for producing offering sets, weapons, and utensils. It served the royal's use and the vast area of southern Vietnam. Today, some goods, made in the most thriving time of the village, are still available for visiting. They are the great temple bell of Thien Mu pagoda, of Dieu De Pagoda, Cuu Vi Than Cong (Four cannons) in front of the Imperial, and the Nine Dynastic Urns in Forbidden Purple Palace.

Today you can visit the village and shop for new and old copper goods of your preferences.

The artist in Sinh Painting Village. Photo by Hue Culture Pham Travel

Sinh Painting Village

The other name of Sinh village is Lai An Village. The village is located near the city center, downstream of the Huong Riverbank, near Bao Vinh ancient town, which used to be the busy trading center under the Nguyen reign. It is a traditional woodblock printing community and a famous wrestling village. Later, besides making folk paintings, people in the town also produced worship or spiritual paintings.

Sinh Painting Village. Photo by Hue Culture Pham Travel

The artisan of the village, Ky Huu Phuoc, claimed that the Sinh people started painting more than 400 years ago. But as time passed, the tradition has somewhat eradicated. Many of the ancient printing woodblocks were lost during the war. Nowadays, the lines of the painting fall into three categories under use for spiritual purposes, which are worship paintings, object paintings, and animal paintings.

Printing woodblocks in Sinh Painting Village. Photo by Hue Culture Pham Travel

All materials are naturally made, from the painting colors to the woodblocks, the paper, and the painting brushes. The locals use jackfruit wood to make the woodblocks, take papers from Quang Ninh, and prepare the colors using almond leaf juice for red, straw/leaf ash for black, and purple from Malabar spinach seeds, and use local pandanus root for making the brushes. The layer of mother pearl powder, which is handly made from Tam Giang lagoon’s seashells, is applied to the paper after regrouping for keeping the colors and durability of the painting.

Besides, by visiting the village on the 10th of January in the lunar calendar, you will have a chance to see the famous spring wrestling festival.

Conical Hat Making Village. Photo by explorevietnam.com.vn

Conical Hat Making Villages

Conical hat-making places are in many areas across Hue, which includes Tay Ho, My Lam, Phu Cam, Phuoc Vinh, Doc So, Trieu Tay, and Huong So. However, Phu Cam and Tay Ho villages are mentioned as the most famous ones in the land.

Conical Hat making. Photo by explorevietnam.com.vn

Each Hue conical hat often comprises 16 brims made from bamboo trees, and its cover layer is made from latania, palm leaves, or bamboo leaves, depending on which plant is available in the local area. Thank to the skillfulness and meticulousness of the craftsman and women, Hue’s conical hat is durable, elegant, and well-finished. The special edition of the hats is the famous poem conical hat ("Non bai tho" in Vietnamese), you can see the patterns and poems that have been skillfully weaved in when light shines through it. You can find this type of hat in the big market, such as Dong Ba, or go directly to Phu Cam Village, located in An Cuu Ward right within the city, or Tay Ho Village, located on the bank of the Nhu Y River of Phu Vang (Hue).

Phuoc Tich Pottery Village. Photo by baomoi.com

Phuoc Tich Pottery Village

This village is in Phong Dien district, located 40 km away from the center, near the borderline of Hue and Quang Tri province. Phuoc Tich village's products were used for the Royal court of the Nguyen Dynasty, sold to provinces from Nghe An to the south area of Vietnam, and some of them were exported to Japan. The locals in Phuoc Tich have produced traditional goods such as tea sets, vases, jars, and dining sets.

Ancient relics in Phuoc Tich Pottery Village. Photo by Tran Viet Anh/ vnxpress.net

Due to the lack of clay soil in the nearby areas, under the Nguyen reign, the locals are permitted to take essential materials for pottery making from other places across the country. The materials are wood from My Xuyen for maintaining the kiln’s fire, and clay from Hai Lang - Quang Tri province. Phuoc Tich is located on the bank of O Lau River, thus, the convenience of water transportation makes this place an ideal spot for shifting materials from the other areas, as well as trading pottery products. Although all products are complete without ceramic glaze, they are still durable and waterproof. This feature also makes pottery in the village look and feel different from ones made in other villages across the country.

Phuoc Tich Pottery Village. Photo by Visit Hue

Besides, visiting the village, tourists have a chance to see 20 more ancient houses with ages between 100-200 years. Most of them are garden houses made from precious wood and were designed according to the traditional Nha Ruong (as known as wooden houses) architecture in Hue.

Bao La Knitting Village. Photo by Kkday

Bao La Knitting Village

On the southern bank of the vast Tam Giang Lagoon, there is an aged bamboo knitting village, known as the name Bao La. The villagers have been producing daily applicants, including bamboo mats, baskets, beds, and ornaments, such as lampshades.

Bao La used to produce most of the household goods for the province. However, the extensive availability and durability of plastic products have pushed the village to the edge of losing the market.

Wanting to maintain the village, locals started to knit new products that meet the needs of modern life, such as decorative things. They also find ways to enhance the quality of the products.

Ke Mon Jewelry Village. Photo by Thanh Hoa/Bao anh Viet Nam

Ke Mon Jewelry Village

The village was founded in the late thirteen century in the Phong Dien district, located 40 km north of Hue’s center. The most famous jewelry artist of the village, one who found the art of jewelry making in Hue, was believed to be Cao Dinh Do, who immigrated from Thanh Ho (Thanh Hoa Province) to Hue during the 19th century.

Ke Mon Jewelry Village. Photo by PhuongVeo Photography

The artworks in the village are often gold or silver bracelets, rings, earrings, and necklaces. During the royal time, its jewelry was made especially for the royals. There are three types of craftsmanship in making jewelry in Ke Mon. Firstly, ‘Nganh Tro’ is a group of craftsmen who made simple products without carving or complicating decorating details. Secondly, ‘Nganh Dau’is the group of craftsmen who makes Indochine-styled patterns to attach to the products. The last and also the most skillful one is artists in ‘Nganh Cham’, who often create delicate shapes and patterns directly on the jewelry.

Thanh Tien Village. Photo by Soha.vn

Thanh Tien Paper Flower Village

Situated downstream of the Huong River, Thanh Tien is famous for confetti crafts used on major holidays and spiritual occasions. The making of paper flowers originated to serve the need of the folk worship tradition of the local people. Hue's weather has been very harsh, so the fresh flower for worship rituals cannot stay fresh for long. Thus, locals use paper flowers instead of fresh ones to worship their ancestors and folk gods and to decorate homes during the Lunar New Year.

Selling flowers made from Thanh Tien during the Tet holiday. Photo by Soha.vn

Today, product diversity has expanded to decorative paper flowers for houses, hotels, restaurants, in festivals, and sometimes they are even used to adorn Ao Dai. The products are also exported as cultural souvenirs of Vietnam. One nice thing about making paper flowers is that the villagers don’t use any dye chemicals, all of the colors are made from the sap and leaves of local plants.

Modern product of Thanh Tien for decorative use. Photo by Soha.vn

There are only about ten households remain making paper flowers, but only three households are open for tourists. The market for paper flowers has been decreasing rapidly, that’s why mostly elderly people remain the tradition of making flowers.

Thuy Xuan Village. Photo by Dau Anh Van/ vnexpress.net

Thuy Xuan Incense Making Village

Being famous among young people recently, Thuy Xuan incense village is a colorful spot for check-in while wearing traditional style Ao Dai.

Thuy Xuan Village. Photo by Dau Anh Van/ vnexpress.net

But getting out of all the noise of the crowds, the villages were founded 700 years ago under the Nguyen Dynasty. Initially, their products, including incense sticks and frankincense, were used by the courts and high-powered people in the area. Due to the continuing ritual practice of Hue, this village is still can keep the works of making incense for younger generations.

It’s might be hard to visit all of the handicraft villages, but all of them are worth exploring! Pick the best suit you and enjoy your experiences.