JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

70-year-old artisan brings childhood memories to Saigon streets toys made from palm leaves

Saturday, May 13, 2023, 09:25 GMT+7
70-year-old artisan brings childhood memories to Saigon streets toys made from palm leaves
Minh smiles after selling a leaf butterfly to a young customer. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Le Minh, a 70-year-old in Ho Chi Minh City, is spreading nostalgia across the southern metropolis with his hand made animal toys crafted from mangrove palm leaves.

Minh began making and selling his leaf toys eight years ago as his declining vision began preventing him from his work as an artist.

Le Minh starts his days at 8:00 am by transforming piles of palm leaves into locusts, peacocks, rabbits, crabs, fish, chickens, birds, deers, horses, and more.

Le Minh, 70, makes a rabbit from a mangrove palm leaf on in street of Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Le Minh, 70, makes a rabbit from a mangrove palm leaf on in street of Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

At 3:00 pm, he loads the toys onto his motorbike and travels throughout the city selling them on street corners.

Minh typically sells about 40 toys each day at VND20,000 (US$0.85) each.

The mangrove palm leaves he uses are brought from the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

Le Minh, 70, makes a locust from mangrove palm leaf on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Le Minh, 70, makes a locust from mangrove palm leaf on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Each animal toys requires one leave and can last quite long if stored in a cool place.

The mangrove palm leaves will turn from yellow-green to white after they dry out.

Le Minh transforms piles of palm leaves into locusts, peacocks, rabbits, crabs, fish, chickens, birds, deers, horses, and more. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Le Minh transforms piles of palm leaves into locusts, peacocks, rabbits, crabs, fish, chickens, birds, deers, horses, and more. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

When Minh first began selling his toys on the street, his children tried to stop him as they worried for his safety. Eventually, however, he won them over.

“I love doing this,” Minh said.

“I told them to let me do this, otherwise I will get sick of staying home and doing nothing.”

Le Minh, 70, sells animal toys made from mangrove palm leaves on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Le Minh, 70, sells animal toys made from mangrove palm leaves on the street in Ho Chi Minh CIty. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

Tran Thi Thuy My, a resident of Go Vap District, recently bought the leaf toys from Minh and shared that they reminded her of her childhood. 

“It’s been years since I saw someone selling these toys in Saigon,” My said.

“I bought them for my kids so that they can learn about my childhood.”

A child poses with a butterfly from of mangrove palm leaf. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A child poses with a butterfly from of mangrove palm leaf. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News

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

Ngoc Phuong - Dong Nguyen / Tuoi Tre News

READ MORE

Read more

Photo

Photo of the Day: Sunset on Phu Quoc

Phu Quoc Island boasts romantic sunsets, evergreen forests, delicious seafood, and a mild climate that all make it an ideal holiday destination for travelers

Video

Crafting homes in Vietnam’s Hoi An

The traditional bamboo houses and nipa palm roofing in Hoi An City, Quang Nam Province, central Vietnam have an elusive origin. However, residents of the Thu Bon estuary have been living under nipa palm roofs for centuries.

Teacher offers free swimming classes for 8 years in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta

A teacher at Tra Noc 2 Elementary School in Binh Thuy District, Can Tho City, situated in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta, has consistently run free swimming classes for the past eight years.

Meet the female rock cutters of Vietnam’s Kien Giang

Under the blazing sun, Ho Thi Mai Thao from Hon Dat, a district in Kien Giang Province, southern Vietnam, tirelessly splits rocks, easily capable of matching the efforts of any man.