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Bamboo Dragonflies

People in Thach Xa Commune, Thach That District, Hanoi have made lively dragonflies from bamboo, which resemble almost exactly the real thing, diversifying the treasure of folk toys of Vietnamese people. An outstanding feature of the bamboo dragonfly is that from the pointed beak on its head it can balance on a spot as small as the end of a finger, the corner of a table, a branch, etc.

At the house of Nguyen Van Dinh’s family, one of the households having the largest business of making bamboo dragonflies in Thach Xa Village, thousands of bamboo dragonflies in different colours were packed for export every month.

Dinh said that although the craft of making bamboo dragonflies is difficult it has been attached to Thach Xa villagers for years and has become their typical traditional trade.

Like in neighbouring areas Thach Xa villagers grow many bamboo trees but they have to buy bamboo from distant mountainous areas, such as Ha Giang, Hoa Binh and Lang Son because the materials in these areas are pliable, durable and resistant to termites.

To make the body of a dragonfly, the firm trunk of a bamboo tree is used. After removing the bark the trunk is split into pieces normally 7cm, 12cm, 14cm or 20cm long depending on the design and customer’s order. To make the dragonfly’s wings, the top part of the bamboo, which is pliable, is used. The core of each splint is cut down to form the body of the dragonfly, on each side of which two small holes are drilled to fix the wings and then the end of the body is whittled and bent to make the tail. The head of the dragonfly is also bent to make a beautiful appearance and create a spot for the dragonfly to perch.

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To make sure the dragonfly is perfectly balanced, the craftsman must carefully calculate the length of the wings and body. After all parts are assembled, the dragonfly is put on the top of a chopstick to test its balance. After the completion of the most difficult step the dragonfly is given a single coat of paint as a base then decorated with lively colourful patterns.

From April or May to New Year according to the lunar calendar, Thach Xa Village is most bustling. Although only about 10 households in the village are engaged in the craft of making bamboo dragonflies, the village is always crowded with craftsmen and customers who come to place orders or buy products. Materials are constantly transported to the village. On average, each of these households produce about 20, 000 bamboo dragonflies a month, nets approximately 10 million VND after deducting the cost and pay for the workers.

Bamboo dragonflies are available throughout the country and are also now in hot demand in Japan, France and the United States.

See also

Experience the Highlands at Lak Lake
Can Tho Watery Area
Untouched Ba Lua Archipelago
Tho Ha Village’s Festival
Chilling at the conical hat market

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