|A village craftsman is meticulously whittling and polishing rattan sticks before weaving baskets. (Photo: VOV)
In many hamlets, you can see local families sitting together making bamboo and rattan baskets, chairs, rice boxes, and papooses.
Craftsmen must be deft, persistent, meticulous, and flexible in selecting the material, splitting, whittling, soaking, and finally weaving it.
On average, it takes about a day to weave a rattan basket, papoose, or rice box, and four to five days to make a rattan tray or chair.
Lo Van Bao of Na Tau hamlet said this is his family’s main job and it produces a stable income.
He told VOV, “My wife and I are pursuing the craft. Each month we weave about 20 bamboo chairs and papooses and earn 6 USD for each. During the corn harvest, Mong ethnic people need many papooses so the price is often higher, about 7 USD each.”
Bamboo and rattan weaving has long been a central part of life in Ngoc Chien. Even people over 70 continue weaving. Children can make bamboo and rattan products from the age of 10.
Lo Van Thu, a resident of Na Tau hamlet, recalled, “I learned the craft by doing it. When I couldn’t find a job, I learned the craft from my grandparents and parents in order to have some income to feed my family and to preserve the tradition. I hope to pass it down to my children.”
More than 300 households in Ngoc Chien are engaged in the craft, mainly in the hamlets of Na Tau, Dong Xuong, Long Cang, Muong Chien, Luot, and Nam Nghiep.
To preserve and further develop the craft, Ngoc Chien’s administration has called on the elderly in the commune to pass it on to their children and grandchildren and establish groups of five to 10 households to help each other and share the techniques.
Special attention has been given to developing the craft for tourism, says Bui Tien Sy, Secretary of Ngoc Chien commune’s Party Committee.
“Bamboo and rattan weaving is one of Ngoc Chien's special handicrafts. To preserve it is to preserve the traditional culture and create items to sell to tourists,” said Sy, adding, “The commune plans to establish a bamboo and rattan cooperative and will make the cultural house of Lướt hamlet a place where coop members can demonstrate the process for tourists. Visitors who want a hands-on experience are welcome to have a try. This will help coop members have a stable income.”
Bamboo and rattan items are still used every day. The people of Ngoc Chien are determined to preserve their traditional craft.
And tourists who visit Ngoc Chien and try weaving themselves find it a fun, memorable experience.