Vietnam is one country of 4,000 years of civilization. Nowadays, "Open Policy" and mighty landscape attract more travelers to visit this country. Vietnam now is also considered as one of the most secure destinations in all of Asia.
The Socialist Republic of Vietnam, which was founded on September 2nd 1945, has never stopped its fast developing steps for a moment since the union of North and South Vietnam in 1975; especially after the policy of economic liberalizations, Vietnam is no longer a State in time of war. This country is more and more famed and popular for its beautiful white sandy beaches, imposing highlands, well-preserved primeval forests, kind and stalwart people who enjoy their placid rural lives. Taking a tour to Socialist Republic of Vietnam would be a really good choice to have a memorable holiday.
Vietnam is on the east coast of the Indian Peninsula and has a 3260 kilometers' (about 2025 miles) long coastline. With China to the north, Laos and Cambodia to the west, Gulf of Tonkin and South China Sea to the east, the shape of Vietnam's territory is just like an elongated "S" and its' narrowest point is only 50 kilometers (30 miles) wide. With an area of 330,000 square kilometers (127,000 square miles), three quarters are lofty mountainous regions and altiplanos and only one quarter is fertile land and deltas. Vietnam is the one of the most populous countries in the world having a population of 79 million which falls into more than 50 ethnic groups. About 80 percent is Vietnamese, and others are mostly Chinese, Khmers and Thai. Vietnamese is the official language, and foreign languages like English, Chinese, French and Russian are used popularly in the country. Buddhism, Christianity, Caodaism, Muslim, Taoist and Confucianism all have sizeable believers while Buddhists are in the majority. Due to the complex landform, Vietnam has diverse weather in different regions. Generally speaking, Vietnam belongs to the tropical monsoon climate which brings a dry season from April to November and a rainy season from May to October each year.
Hanoi, the Capital city, is the largest metropolis except for Saigon, and is the center of politics, economy, culture and transportation in Vietnam. Built in seventh century, Hanoi is known as the City of the Millennium. Strong local flavor and numerous historical sites make this garden-like city a very good travel destination. Folk customs such as purifier lacquer, dulcet music, impressive dance, fancy water puppetry and inimitable cuisine all could provide you with a very enjoyable tour.
The Red River in the north and the Mekong River in the south of Vietnam helped develop this dignified, staunch and brave nation, and their glorious and brilliant culture will definitely catch the attention of visitors from all over the world.
The way Vietnam has emerged from the tatters of long battles could be compared to the process of a lotus plant pushing up through mud and murky water to emerge as a beautiful blooming flower. Today's Vietnam is a fascinating place that offers lasting memories and eternal images.
Water buffalos and green rice fields, bustling and colorful markets, elegant women dressed in traditional Ao Dai and conical hats, Cyclo bikes weaving through manic streets and quiet lanes, fine silks and obliging tailor ... and more. And then there's the incredible range of delicious food - sure to delight even the most exacting gourmet! Visitors just love everything about Vietnam.
Visitors can cruise amongst the magnificent limestone peaks of Ha Long Bay, trek through rugged and remote hill tribe areas, explore ancient and modern cities, laze on idyllic beaches, laugh with village children or navigate the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta.
Vietnam has plenty of natural beauty to quench anyone's thirst for adventure, especially visitors will be most impressed by its wonderful people. Living on boats, in stilt houses or crowded cities, it is their welcoming smiles, eternal good humor and genuine hospitality that quickly puts visitors at ease.
Come to Vietnam - there is something new to discover and experience at every turn!
Most visitors to Vietnam are overwhelmed by the sublime beauty of the country's natural setting: the Red River Delta in the north, the Mekong Delta in the south and almost the entire coastal strip are a patchwork of brilliant green rice paddies tended by women in conical hats.
There are some divine beaches along the coast, while inland there are soaring mountains, some of which are cloaked by dense, misty forests. Vietnam also offers an opportunity to see a country of traditional charm and rare beauty rapidly opening up to the outside world.
Despite its ongoing economic liberalisation and the pressures of rapid development, this dignified country has managed to preserve its rich civilisation and highly cultured society.
It has discarded its post-war fatigues and the boom in budget travelling, coupled with the softening of government control, have enabled more contemporary and relevant portraits of the country to gain currency in the West.
Location : South East Asia
Full country name : Socialist Republic of Vietnam,
Area : 329,566 sq. km (128, 527 square miles).
Population : More than 80 million (Growth Rate 1.2%).
Capital city : Hanoi (population 4 million).
People : 85% ethnic Vietnamese, 3% ethnic Chinese, also Khmer, Cham (a remnant of the once great Indianised Champa Kingdom) and members of some 55 ethno-linguistic groups.
Languages: Vietnamese, French, Chinese, English and a variety of Mon-Khmer and Malayo-Polynesian local dialects.
Religions: Buddhism is the principal religion but there are also sizeable Taoist, Confucian, Hoa Hao, Cao Dai, Muslim and Christian minorities.
President: Mr. Tran Duc Luong.
Prime Minister: Mr. Phan Van Khai.
Short facts in History:
At the beginning of the Bronze Age, the Viet tribe groups had settled down in the North and in the north of Central Vietnam. There were about 15 groups of Lac Viet tribesmen living mainly in the northern highland and delta and a dozen Au Viet groups of tribesmen living in Viet Bac, the northern region of old Vietnam. At that time, the two ethnic tribes of the Lac Viet and Au Viet lived together in many areas with other inhabitants. Due to the increasing need to control floods, fight against invaders, and exchange culture and economy, these tribes living near each other tended to gather together and integrate into a larger mixed group. Among these Lac Viet tribes was the Van Lang, which was the most powerful tribe. The leader of this tribe joined all the Lac Viet tribes together to found Van Lang Nation, addressing himself as Hung King. The next generations followed in their father's footsteps and kept this appellation. Based on historical documents, researchers correlatively delineated the location of Van Lang Nation to the present day regions of North and north of Central Vietnam, as well as the south of present-day Kwangsi (China). The Van Lang Nation approximately lasted from the beginning of the first millennium B.C. to the 3rd century B.C.
In 221 BC, Tan Thuy Hoang, King of Tan (China), invaded the land of the Viet tribes. Thuc Phan, the leader of the alliance of Au-Viet tribes was respected as the chief of the resistance war against the Tan enemy that later, in 208 BC, was forced to withdraw. With his imposing power, Thuc Phan nominated himself as King An Duong Vuong and founded Au Lac Nation with groups of Lac Viet and Au Viet tribes. In 179 BC, Trieu Da, King of Nam Viet (China), invaded Au Lac country. The resistance of An Duong Vuong failed soon after this invasion. As a result, the northern feudalist took turns dominating the country over the next seven centuries, establishing their harsh regime in the country and dividing the country into administrative regions and districts with unfamiliar names. However, the country's name of Au Lac could not be erased from the people’s minds in their everyday life.
In the spring of 542, Ly Bi rose up in arms and swept away the Chinese administration, liberating the territory. He declared himself King of Van Xuan Kingdom in February 544, acknowledging the national superiority complex of the independent spirits to live in eternal peace. However, the existence of Ly Bi’s administration was very brief. He was defeated by the Chinese imperial army, and the country returned to feudal Chinese domination again in 602. The name Van Xuan was restored only after the victory over the Han army at the Bach Dang River led by General Ngo Quyen in 938. This victory marked the end of the Chinese domination period in Vietnam.
In 968, Dinh Bo Linh defeated the twelve lords and unified the country. He declared himself King and named the country Dai Co Viet. This name remained throughout the Dinh dynasty (868-979), Pre-Le dynasty (980-1009) and the beginning of Ly dynasty (1010-1053).
In 1054, a flaming bright star appeared in the sky for many days, which was considered a good omen. As a result, the Ly King changed the name of the country to Dai Viet. This name remained until the end of Tran dynasty.
In March 1400, Ho Quy Ly usurped the throne of King Tran Thieu De, founded the Ho dynasty and changed the country’s name to Dai Ngu, meaning peace in the ancient language. This name only lasted for very short time, until April 1407, when the Minh enemy invaded Dai Ngu and defeated the Ho dynasty.
After 10 years of resistance against the Ming (Chinese) occupation (1418-1427), Le Loi had achieved a victorious triumph. In 1428, Le Loi declared himself King of Le dynasty and changed the name of the country back to Dai Viet. At this time, the territory of Vietnam had expanded to the region of present-day Hue. The name Dai Viet remained under the Le dynasty (1428-1787) and the Tay Son dynasty (1788-1810).
In 1802, Nguyen Anh claimed his coronation to become the first Nguyen King, starting the Nguyen dynasty and changing the country’s name to Viet Nam. This name was officially recognized in many diplomatic missions in 1804. However, the words "Viet Nam" had already appeared very early in history. In the 14th century, there was a book of code entitled "Viet Nam The Chi", edited by Doctor Ho Tong Thoc. In the book by scholar Nguyen Trai entitled "Du Dia Chi" at the beginning of 15th century, the words "Viet Nam" were repeated several times. Doctor Trinh Nguyen Binh Khiem (1491-1585) had written on the first page of his work "Trinh Tien Sinh Quoc Ngu" the following: "... Viet Nam have constructed its foundation..." The words "Viet Nam" were also found in some carved stelae of the 16th - 17th century in Bao Lam Pagoda, Haiphong (1558), in Cam Lo Pagoda, Ha Tay (1590), in Phuc Thanh Pagoda, Bac Ninh (1664), etc. In particular, in the first sentence on the stele Thuy Mon Dinh (1670) at the landmark on the border at Lang Son, it was written: "This is the gateway of Viet Nam that guards the northern frontiers..." In terms of meaning, there are many theories that prove the words "Viet Nam" are created by combining two racial and geographic elements, which is understood as "Viet people from the south". During the reign of King Minh Mang (1820-1840), the name of the country was changed to Dai Nam, but Viet Nam was still widely used in many literary works, civil business affairs, and social relations.
Following the triumph of the August Revolution on August 19th 1945, which had entirely swept away Vietnamese feudal and French colonial oppression and began a new era in the country, President Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the nation’s independence and the national name Democratic Republic of Vietnam was born on September 2nd 1945. Although Vietnam suffered from war and separation in the following 30 years, the sacred words "Viet Nam" were very popularly used from the north to the south, and were deeply imprinted in the hearts of the Vietnamese people.
Following the liberation of Southern Vietnam on April 30 1975, the entire country of Vietnam was completely unified. In the first meeting of the national assembly of the unified Vietnam on July 2nd 1976, the assembly decided to name the country The Socialist Republic of Vietnam. The constitution of 1980, and 1992, continued its affirmation of the country's official name, legally and actually.
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Facts for the Traveler
Visas : Bureaucratic hassles will be your first problem in getting a visa - expect delays of five days or more. Bangkok is the best place to get one. It's usually best to get your visas through a travel agency. Expense is the other problem; tourist visas valid for a single 30-day stay cost about 40.00 in Bangkok.
Health risks : dengue fever (The Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits the dengue virus, is most active during the day and is found mainly in urban areas, in and around human dwellings. Signs and symptoms of dengue fever include a sudden onset of high fever, headache, joint and muscle pains, nausea and vomiting. A rash of small red spots sometimes appears three to four days after the onset of fever. In the early stages, dengue may be mistaken for malaria and influenza. Minor bleeding such as nose bleeds may occur in the course of the illness, but this does not necessarily mean that you have progressed to the potentially fatal dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF). This is a severe illness, characterised by heavy bleeding, which is thought to be a result of a second infection by a different strain (there are four major strains) and it usually affects residents of the country rather than travellers), hepatitis (This is a general term for inflammation of the liver. There are several different viruses that cause hepatitis, and they differ in the way that they are transmitted. The symptoms are similar in all forms of the illness, and include fever, chills, head-ache, fatigue, feelings of weakness, aches and pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-coloured faeces, jaundiced (yellow) skin and yellowing of the whites of the eyes. Hepatitis A is transmitted by contaminated food and drinking water. You should seek medical advice, but there is not much you can do apart from resting, drinking lots of fluids, eating lightly and avoiding fatty foods. Hepatitis E is transmitted in the same way as hepatitis A; it can be particularly serious in pregnant women. Hepatitis B is spread through contact with infected blood, blood products or body fluids or unsterilised, contaminated equipment such as tattoo needles. The symptoms of hepatitis B may be more severe than type A and the disease can lead to long-term problems such as chronic liver damage, liver cancer or a long-term carrier state. Hepatitis D is spread in the same way as hepatitis B; hepatitis C through blood to blood contact only. Both can lead to long-term complications), malaria (This serious and potentially fatal disease is spread by mosquito bites. If you are travelling in endemic areas it is extremely important to avoid mosquito bites and to take tablets to prevent this disease. Symptoms range from fever, chills and sweating, headache, diarrhoea and abdominal pains to a vague feeling of ill-health. Seek medical help immediately if malaria is suspected. Without treatment malaria can rapidly become more serious and can be fatal), rabies (This fatal viral infection is found in many countries. Many animals (such as dogs, cats, bats and monkeys) can be infected and it is their saliva which is infectious. Any bite, scratch or even lick from an animal should be cleaned immediately and thoroughly. Scrub with soap and running water, and then apply alcohol or iodine solution. Medical help should be sought promptly to receive a course of injections to prevent the onset of symptoms and death), typhoid (This dangerous gut infection is caused by contaminated water and food. Medical help must be sought. During its early stages sufferers may feel as if they have a bad cold or flu on the way. Early symptoms include a headache, body aches and a fever that rises a little each day until it is around 40°C (104°F) or more. The victim's pulse is usually slow, relative to the degree of fever present - unlike a normal fever where the pulse increases. There may also be vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea or constipation. In the second week the high fever and slow pulse continue and a few pink spots may appear on the body; trembling, delirium, weakness, weight loss and dehydration may occur. Complications such as pneumonia, perforated bowel or meningitis may occur), tuberculosis (This bacterial infection is usually transmitted from person to person by coughing but it may also be transmitted through consumption of unpasteurised milk. Travellers are usually not at great risk as close household contact with the infected person is usually required before the disease is passed on. You may need to have a TB test before you travel as this can help diagnose the disease later if you become ill)
Time Zone : GMT/UTC +7
Dialling Code : 84
Electricity : 220V ,50Hz
Weights & measures : Metric
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When to Go
There are no good or bad seasons to visit Vietnam. When one region is wet, cold or steamy hot, there is always somewhere else that is sunny and pleasant. Basically, the south has two seasons: the wet (May to November, wettest from June to August) and the dry (December to April). The hottest and most humid time is from the end of February to May. The central coast is dry from May to October and wet from December to February. The highland areas are significantly cooler than the lowlands, and temperatures can get down to freezing in winter. The north has two seasons: cool, damp winters (November to April) and hot summers (May to October). There is the possibility of typhoons between July and November, affecting the north and central areas.
Travellers should take the Tet Festival (late January or early February) into account when planning a trip. Travel (including international travel) becomes very difficult, hotels are full and many services close down for at least a week and possibly a lot longer.
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Special prayers are held at Vietnamese and Chinese pagodas on days when the moon is either full or the merest sliver. Many Buddhists eat only vegetarian food on these days. Some of the major religious festivals follow a lunar calendar. They include: Tet (late January or early February), the most important festival of the year, which lasts a week (with rites beginning a week earlier), marking the new lunar year; Wandering Souls Day (Trung Nguyen), held on the fifteenth day of the seventh moon (August), the second-largest festival of the year, when offerings of food and gifts are given to the wandering souls of the forgotten dead; Summer Solstice Day (Tiet Doan Ngo) in June which sees the burning of human effigies to satisfy the need for souls to serve in the God of Death's army; and Holiday of the Dead (Thanh Minh) in April commemorating deceased relatives.
late Jan - Tet
30 Apr - Liberation of Saigon
1 May - Labour Day
Aug - Wandering Souls Day
1 Jan - New Year's Day
3 Feb - Communist Party Foundation
19 May - Ho Chi Minh's Birthday
28 May - Buddha's Enlightenment
2 Sep - National Day
3 Sep - Ho Chi Minh's Death Anniversary
Vietnam has one of the most complex ethno linguistic patterns in Asia. The Vietnamese were significantly Sinicized during a millennium of Chinese rule. Vietnamese, one of the Mon-Khmer languages of the Austro-Asiatic language family, exhibits strong Chinese influence. Indian influence is found among the Cham and Khmer minorities. The Cham, whose language belongs to the Austronesian language family, formed the majority population in the Indianized kingdom of Champa in what is now central Vietnam from the 2nd century to the late 15th century AD. Small numbers of Cham remain in the south-central coastal plain and in the Mekong delta near the Cambodian border. The Khmer (Cambodians), whose language is one of the Mon-Khmer languages, are scattered throughout the Mekong delta.
Many other ethnic groups inhabit the highlands. While cultures vary considerably in the central highlands, shared characteristics include a traditional way of life still largely oriented around kin groups and small communities. Known collectively by the French as Montagnards ("Highlanders"), these peoples have affinities with other Southeast Asians. Many groups such as the Rade (Rhade), Jarai, Chru, and Roglai--speak Austronesian languages, linking them to the Cham, Malay, and Indonesian peoples; others--including the Bru, Pacoh, Katu, Cua, Hre, Rengao, Sedang, Bahnar, Mnong, Mang (Maa), and Stieng-speak Mon-Khmer languages, affiliating them with the Khmer.
Highlanders have experienced little Chinese or Indian influence, but they were exposed to Western (French and then American) influence from the late 19th century until the early 1970s. French missionaries and administrators provided roman script for some of the Montagnard languages, and additional orthographies have been devised since. The Montagnards have exhibited an intense desire to preserve their own cultural identities. The various groups in the uplands of northern Vietnam have ethnolinguistic affiliations with peoples in Thailand, Laos, and southern China. The largest of these are the tribal Tai (Thai) groups who speak Tai languages and generally live in upland valleys. H'mong (Miao, or Meo) and Mien groups, who speak languages of the Sino-Tibetan language family, are scattered at higher elevations.
Vietnam's population has grown rapidly since reunification in 1975. As a result, an increasing proportion of the population is young.
The migration pattern long has been predominantly from north to south, and more recently there also has been migration from the lowlands to higher elevations and from rural to urban areas. In 1954 nearly one million people moved from north to south. In both the north and the south in the late 1950s, there were programs to resettle ethnic Vietnamese from the lowlands to the uplands. While these programs were discontinued in the south in 1963, they continued in the north; between 1976 and 1980 they were revived throughout the country and greatly intensified, with a significant number of people moving from the south to the central highlands. Since then, however, there has been an overall flow of migrants into Ho Chi Minh City and its environs, as well as into the central highlands. Out-migration has been greatest in parts of the northeast and along the central coastal plain.
The Vietnamese Language
Vietnamese Vietnam's official language, is a tonal language that can be compared to Cambodia's official language, Khmer. With each syllable, there are six different tones that can be used, which change the definition and it often makes it difficult for foreigners to pick up the language. There are other languages spoken as well such as Chinese, Khmer, Cham and other languages spoken by tribes inhabiting the mountainous regions. Although there are some similarities to Southeast Asian languages, such as Chinese, Vietnamese is thought to be a separate language group, although a member of the Austro-Asiatic language family. In written form, Vietnamese uses the Roman alphabet and accent marks to show tones. This system of writing called quoc ngu, was created by Catholic missionaries in the 17th century to translate the scriptures. Eventually this system, particularly after World War I, replaced one using Chinese characters (chu nom), which had been the unofficial written form used for centuries.
Family and Social Culture
Before the late 1980s, nearly all Vietnamese people lived in villages, and the cultivation of wet rice was the principal economic activity. The basic component of rural society was the nuclear family, composed of parents and unwed children.
Respect for parents and ancestors is a key virtue in Vietnam. The oldest male in the family is the head of the family and the most important family member. His oldest son is the second leader of the family. Sometimes, related families live together in a big house and help each other. The parents chose their children's marriage partners based on who they think is best suited for their child. When people die, their families honor their ancestors on the day of their death by performing special ceremonies at home or at temples and by burning incense and fake money for the one who died.
The Vietnamese believed that by burning incense, their ancestors could protect them and their family from danger and harm. Days before the ceremony starts, the family has to get ready, because they won't have enough time to get ready when the guests arrive and the ceremony starts. Usually the women cook and prepare many special kinds of food, like chicken, ham, pork, rice, and many more including desserts.
While the women are busy cooking, the men are busy fixing up and cleaning up the house, so it won't be messy and dirty because of all the relatives of the person that died will come for the ceremony and show honor and respect to that person.
Families venerated their ancestors with special religious rituals. The houses of the wealthy were constructed of brick, with tile roofs. Those of the poor were bamboo and thatch. Rice was staple food for the vast majority, garnished with vegetables and, for those who could afford it, meat and fish.
The French introduced Western values of individual freedom and sexual quality, which undermined and the traditional Vietnamese social system. In urban areas, Western patterns of social behavior became increasingly common, especially among educated and wealthy Vietnamese attended French schools, read French books, replaced traditional attire with Western-style clothing, and drank French wines instead of the traditional wine distilled from rice. Adolescents began to resist the tradition of arranged marriages, and women chafed under social mores that demanded obedience to their fathers and husbands. In the countryside, however, traditional Vietnamese family values remained strong.
The trend toward adopting Western values continues in South Vietnam after the division of the country in 1954. Many young people embraced sexual freedom and the movies, clothing styles, and rock music from Western cultures became popular. But in the North, social ethnics were defined by Vietnam Communist Party's principles. The government officially recognized equality of the sexes, and women began to obtain employment in professions previously dominated by men. At the same time, the government began enforcing a more puritanical lifestyle as a means to counter the so-called decadent practices of Western society. Traditional values continued to hold sway in rural areas and countryside, where the concept of male superiority remained common.
In the 1980s, the Vietnamese government adopted an economic reform program that freely from free market principles and encouraged foreign investment and tourism development. As a result, the Vietnamese people have become increasingly acquainted with and influenced by the lifestyles in developed countries of South East Asia and the West.
Arts and Handicrafts in Vietnam
Ceramics and pottery have been around Vietnam, it is believed, since the Neolithic period. During the 11th century ceramics were in great demand for religious purposes with the popularity of Buddhism. Religious objects as well as statues were needed and were produced with great skill. The beauty and elegance of ceramics caused the aristocracy, as well as emperors, to become patrons of kilns in the Red River Delta. Cups, dishes, etc., with whitish-ivory and jade-green glazes were produced in the 12th century, gradually increasing in ornamentation during the 15th and 16th centuries. With the adoption of cobalt blue from China, Vietnam started producing blue-white ceramics which were still being produced as late as the 19th century in royal workshops, and in the village of Bat Trang (Hanoi).
Woodcarving, considered to be a peasant art, was until recently a hidden art within Vietnam. It was not until 1972 that the country realized the beautiful art hidden within it's country's homes.
This art uses ironwood, ebony, reddish mahogany and rosewood (yak wood) with the natural beauty of the wood just adds to the finished product, whether it be in a temple, home or a statue. Adding to the natural beauty, sometimes several layers of lacquer and color are applied making it even more breathtaking. Woodcuts initially came from China, but is now considered to be a traditional Vietnamese art. These are mainly used for book illustrations and for pictures during Tet (Tranh Tet - traditional New Year's pictures).
Dong Ho Paintings
You may have seen them before. They adorn the walls of Vietnamese restaurants everywhere in the world. Vietnamese people hang them up as Lunar New Year approaches. In Vietnam, production of these folk paintings peaks right before Tet as merchants stock up in anticipation of heavy customer demand.
The Print Making Process
These paintings are traditionally used to decorate homes for the New Year festival. The prints are made by brushing paint made of local material onto carved wood blocks, then pressing the blocks on paper. The print is left to dry after each color is applied before another color is added. Three to five colors are used to make each print.
The Wood Blocks
The wooden blocks are made from the thi tree, a soft fibrous wood. The block is used as a printing plate, with one block for each color, print and size. The blocks are usually kept in a separate warehouse to preserve them in their finest form.
The prints are all done on traditional giay gio paper made from the bark fiber of the do tree. This tree grows in the northwestern part of the country. The sheath is stripped off the tree trunk and soaked in a pond for a month. It is then dipped in limewater for two weeks, followed by a wash. After ten days or so the pulp is poured into frames which are stacked for several more days. Then the stacks are arranged on a wall to dry, and pressed smooth with a stone mortar. The paper is coated with a pulverized powder made from shellfish found in the Hai Phong area. The shellfish is brought to the village and coated with mud for two years.
The entire mixture is then ground up by stone mortar and put into a water tank to be filtered and pressed into balls that weigh about a kilo and they are left to dry on the walls or floors. They are then used as needed and mixed with glue. This mixture is called diep powder.
The prints are painted with a beautiful brush made of spruce. The thet brushes are made from dried spruce leaves bound together. These brushes are made in a village not far away and come in various sizes. The leaves are pounded with salt water and a hammer to make the brush tip soft enough and are bound together and flattened at the top.
The folk art simplicity has strong and simple contours with bright colors that are made from dried bamboo leaves, the local fruits, flowers and leaves. The paint is mixed in large earthenware pots. The colors are mixed by hand and each artisan has his or her own formula. The red paint is made from soi son, a soft stone that is found in the region. The blue paint is made from indigo leaves found in the minority areas. Both of these paints must be soaked in an earthenware pot for a couple of years and strained of all impurities.
Yellow paint usually comes from the sophora tree whose flowers are as small as rice kernels. The flowers are roasted in a pan until they turn brownish-yellow. When water is added and the mixture is boiled, the yellow color appears. The liquid is filtered and the pulp thrown away. The violet color comes from the mong toi fruit. Black paint comes from the bamboo tree. When the bamboo trees shed their leaves, they are burned to a cinder, then sprinkled with water and put in a glazed clay jar half filled with water. After a year or more the water is strained and the black ink is ready for use after being mixed with glutinous rice glue.
Grinding glutinous rice into a fine powder and mixing it with water makes the rice glue. As the rice powder settles to the bottom, the clear water is skimmed off every day, to prevent the contents from fermenting.