Hàng Trống folk painting exhibition revives traditional art form

Genuine handicraft products, Hàng Trống paintings have a long history of more than 500 years, linked to the rituals of ancestor worship.

HÀ NỘI Replicas of famous traditional Hàng Trống folk paintings – a genre of traditional Vietnamese woodcuts by Hà Nội artisans – are on display at an exhibition taking place right in its birthplace in Hàng Trống Ward in Hoàn Kiếm District, Hà Nội.

Being held within Nam Hương Temple, where local residents conduct ceremonies associated with Hàng Trống worshipping paintings, the exhibition aims to promote the value and identity of this genre of folk painting.

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Nam Hương Temple is the venue hosting the current exhibition of Hàng Trống folk paintings. — Photo

According to Chairman of the People’s Committee of Hàng Trống Ward, Đặng Minh Tuấn, for a long time, the Hàng Trống folk painting genre was left to oblivion. However, in recent years, the ward, together with the Hoàn Kiếm District and the city, have conducted several programmes and projects to restore and promote the value and identity of the painting.

“The current exhibition showcases 10 paintings created by artisan using the họa kim sa painting technique,” Tuấn said.

Researched by Nguyễn Hoàng Anh, a young woman who graduated from the Graphic Design Department of the University of Industrial Fine Arts in Hà Nội, họa kim sa is a painting technique inspired by the enamel painting, using milky ground quartz sand to colour the paintings.

According to Hoàng Anh, this painting technique originates from Europe and Egypt, so when starting to learn about this art, she and her team faced difficulties due to the language barrier.

“After four years of researching and experimentation, we basically have perfected the process of creating a painting using the họa kim sa technique,” she said.

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A foreign visitor looks at a painting presented in the exhibition. — Photo

Completing a painting requires many stages, from sketching to using silky copper wire to create every single drawn line. Finally, milky ground quartz sand will be used to colour the painting, creating the sparkling effect for the art piece.

One of Hàng Trống’s most popular paintings, Ngũ Hổ (The Five Tigers), has been presented in the exhibition. The artists have spent more than 300 hours to complete the 75cm by 86cm painting, which expresses the majesty, dignity and vividness of the tigers with brilliant colours.

Contemplated the painting, a visitor said: “It is very beautiful and true to the ancient original version. I am happy to know that more and more young people have shown their special interest in traditional art and wanted to preserve these unique cultural values.”

Genuine handicraft products, Hàng Trống paintings have a long history of more than 500 years, linked to the rituals of ancestor worship.

The paintings first flourished with the development of Buddhism. Since then, people have realised that the paintings symbolise happiness and prosperity, and hang them during Tết (Lunar New Year).

The paintings’ subjects are diverse, ranging from history, worship, decoration and social activities. Hàng Trống paintings have vivid colours of yellow, blue, green, orange and lotus pink.

Theo Vietnamnews