JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Hanoi craftsman makes toy figurine art close to kids’ hearts

Thursday, February 11, 2021, 15:39 GMT+7
Hanoi craftsman makes toy figurine art close to kids’ hearts
Nguyen Van Thanh, an artisan residing in Hanoi, Vietnam meticulously crafts model to he (edible toy figurines) before going to work. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

By passing the traditional trade of crafting to he (edible toy statuettes) on to posterity, Nguyen Van Thanh aspires to keep it alive at a time when more attractive modern toys dominate the market.

Residents in Xuan La Village, nestled in Phuong Duc Commune, Phu Xuyen District in suburban Hanoi, have preserved tradition of crafting to he – toy statuettes typically made of glutinous rice powder – for 300 years.

The eye-catching toy figurines usually use glutinous rice powder as the long-standing material, which means children could eat and play with them.

Among the veteran craftsmen is Thanh, who currently serves as chair of ‘To He Trade Village Club’ in the village.

Hoping to preserve the traditional creation of such objects for future generations, he has accepted offers to teach the long-standing craft to local preschoolers and school students in extracurricular classes over the past 10 years.

With little time and a lot to do for his day job and classes, Thanh covers nearly 100 kilometers from his home in the outskirts to the inner districts, where the schools are located, and back home on a daily basis.

The craftsman has since become a fixture at the schools, commuting the long distance in all kinds of weather and working hard to keep his village’s centuries-old toy figurine making alive.

In 2015, Thanh became the country’s youngest person to be conferred with the title of Meritorious Artisan by the State President.

There is one more thing that Thanh is proud of.

“My son shows an interest and natural gift in this craft,” he said, expressing hopes that his son will follow in his and his forefathers’ footsteps.

“He also won prizes at contests organized by the city and Cultural Heritage Association of Vietnam.”

With Nguyen Van Thanh’s instructions, preschoolers manage to make eye-catching toy figurines during the captivating sessions. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

With Nguyen Van Thanh’s instructions, preschoolers manage to make eye-catching toy figurines during the captivating sessions. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh, an artisan residing in Hanoi, Vietnam teaches four classes every week at local kindergartens. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh, an artisan residing in Hanoi, Vietnam teaches four classes every week at local kindergartens. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

To he figurines shaped as buffalo, the zodiac sign the 2021 Lunar New Year falls under, are gifted to South Korean guests. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

To he figurines shaped as buffalo, the zodiac sign the 2021 Lunar New Year falls under, are gifted to South Korean guests. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

School students are enthralled as Nguyen Van Thanh demonstrates how to make to he statuettes during an extracurricular class held at Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature), one of Hanoi’s much-loved tourist attractions. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

School students are enthralled as Nguyen Van Thanh demonstrates how to make to he statuettes during an extracurricular class held at Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature), one of Hanoi’s much-loved tourist attractions. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh leaves early for his classes as he commutes nearly 40 kilometers from his home in Xuan La Village in the suburban district of Phu Xuyen, Hanoi to downtown areas where the schools are located. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh leaves early for his classes as he commutes nearly 40 kilometers from his home in Xuan La Village in the suburban district of Phu Xuyen, Hanoi to downtown areas where the schools are located. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

A ‘debut’ figurine made by one of Nguyen Van Thanh’s young students. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

A ‘debut’ figurine made by one of Nguyen Van Thanh’s young students. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh carries many model to he figurines to his classes. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Nguyen Van Thanh carries many model to he figurines to his classes. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Crafting toy figurines is part of the Art subject. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Crafting toy figurines is part of the Art subject. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Students from Viet Hung Middle School in Dong Anh District, Hanoi are enthralled as Nguyen Van Thanh demonstrates his to he craftsmanship during an extracurricular class.  Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach/ Tuoi Tre

Students from Viet Hung Middle School in Dong Anh District, Hanoi are enthralled as Nguyen Van Thanh demonstrates his to he craftsmanship during an extracurricular class. Photo: Hoang Ngoc Thach / Tuoi Tre

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Ngoc Hanh - Hoang Ngoc Thach

READ MORE

Read more

Photo

Video

Soupless soup: The fried varieties of Vietnam’s famous 'pho'

In Hanoi, however, pho menus give diners a variety of options

Couple give it all to run custom guitar workshop in Ho Chi Minh City

Driven by their passion for music, a couple from Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City have learnt to build guitars by hand.

It's weekend! Find yourself a coffee spot in Saigon and enjoy it!

You maybe surprised by the multiple coffee options that Saigon has to offer, as the city is where people can find modern espresso shots embraced in the land of traditional phin (metal-filter) drops