Purchase of Tết folk paintings a refined Vietnamese tradition

One of Vietnamese people’s cultured, time-honored Tết traditions is to buy and hang Tết folk paintings, traditionally believed to bring the owners good luck in the lunar new year.

Painting_Vietnamese_1Paintings from Thừa Thiên- Huế province’s iconic Chuồn village

This tradition is believed to date back to the Lý dynasty (1010 – 1225), when Việt Nam was in one of its richest cultural eras.

Tết paintings, which feature radiant colors, diverse topic matters, and dexterous paint strokes, have since been a fixture of locals’ celebration of Tết, which begins on Jan 31 this year.

During the few days prior to Tết, households remove their old paintings and hang new ones to “bid farewell to old things and embrace the new.”

Painting_Vietnamese_2An artist is sketching a portrait of a girl at a Tết painting stall

Prices of Tết paintings vary considerably, from a few to several hundreds of US dollars.

Thus, people from all walks of life can purchase a painting for their Tết celebration.

According to archival documents, the country boasts many folk painting villages and schools.

The most long-standing and celebrated are Đông Hồ woodblocks and Hàng Trống and Kim Hoàng paintings from northern Bắc Ninh, Hà Nội and Hà Tây, and Nam Hoành and Sinh village paintings from central Nghệ An Province and Huế.

Painting_Vietnamese_3Hồ Village’s Tết paintings in 1941

Though all are expressive of people’s wishes for good luck, health, wealth, and prosperity in the lunar new year, each school of folk paintings has its own appeal and clientele.

For instance, Đông Hồ woodblocks are simple and rustic and are thus usually preferred by working people and those in the countryside, while Hàng Trống paintings are more elegant and stylish and are more popular among educated and well-off city-dwellers.

Tếtt folk paintings also come in a wide variety of subcategories and themes, ranging from religious, historical, and landscape paintings to caricatures and calligraphy paintings.

Painting_Vietnamese_4Đám cưới chuột (The rat wedding), a Đông Hồ folk woodblock

Most families in rural areas hang pairs of inexpensive folk paintings on the walls of the main chamber and at the doorway, while those in cities typically hang paintings of pretty women and flowers in the living and dining rooms.

People also hang paintings depicting the animal zodiac of the current lunar year.

As this year is the Year of the Horse, paintings of galloping horses are currently in high demand.

During the days before Tết, paintings are widely displayed for sale in country markets or on city streets.

Source: Tuổi Trẻ News

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