Artisan Dedicates Life to Crafting Portraits of Late President Ho Chi Minh

A Hanoi craftsman paid tribute to the esteemed Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh in a remarkable manner.

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Born in 1955 in Hanoi’s Chuong My District, artisan Nguyen Van Trung has dedicated his entire life to the art of rattan and bamboo weaving, with a particular focus on creating products depicting President Ho Chi Minh.

He has crafted over 200 works that pay homage to the beloved leader of the nation.

Artisan Nguyen Van Trung stands proudly next to his rattan and bamboo weavings. Photo: Trong Tung

Exquisite masterpieces

In Phu Vinh village of Chuong My District, Van Trung’s house is filled with stunning rattan and bamboo handicrafts. Of these, the most impressive are the paintings of Uncle Ho, notably a hand-woven portrait measuring 1.5 meters in height and over 1 meter in width. “This is one of my most labor-intensive works showcasing Uncle Ho,” revealed the skilled weaver.

Completing the portrait took Trung approximately two months, during which he traveled to numerous provinces in search of suitable and high-quality materials.

From an early age, Trung had nurtured the desire to create a beautiful rattan or bamboo image of Uncle Ho. This desire served as his motivation to continually learn and refine his skills.

“I practiced weaving portraits of family members and friends in preparation for creating Uncle Ho’s portrait. However, vividly capturing his likeness was still challenging,” admitted the master craftsman.

Undeterred by the difficulties, Trung sought technical guidance from teachers at the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts. He also gathered an array of Uncle Ho’s paintings as references before beginning his composition.

“To create a truly lifelike portrait, especially when the subject is President Ho Chi Minh, I meticulously study his photos, polish every slim white rattan thread, and employ up to 15-16 weaving techniques,” shared artisan Nguyen Van Trung.

Passing on the passion to future generations

Artisan Nguyen Van Trung’s unique woven depiction of Uncle Ho made from bamboo and rattan yarn. Photo: Trong Tung

In 1976, craftsman Nguyen Van Trung succeeded in weaving his first portrait of Uncle Ho. Since then, he has created over 200 paintings of the late President, predominantly adoration portraits and paintings featuring themes such as Uncle Ho and Uncle Ton (late Vietnamese President Ton Duc Thang) or Uncle Ho with children. This serves as his personal way of honoring the beloved father of the nation.

These woven handicrafts are often showcased at events promoting the handicrafts of traditional villages, trade fairs, and museums that exhibit the capital’s traditional handicraft villages, landscapes, and people.

Trung has also made significant contributions to the promotion of Vietnamese handicrafts overseas. In 1980, he received the “Creative Youth Award” in the Soviet Union. Subsequently, he worked as a lecturer in bamboo and rattan weaving at the Hanoi University of Industrial Fine Arts. Three years later, he was sent by the State Scientific Committee and the Ministry of Higher Education to the Republic of Cuba as an expert to assist in their handicraft training.

During his four-year stay in the Caribbean country, Trung trained 300 workers for a local weaving workshop. Before returning home in 1987, he presented the people of Cuba with a rattan portrait of the late leader, Fidel Castro.

Hanoi craftsman has devoted almost his entire life to the art of bamboo and rattan weaving. Photo: Nguoi Ha Noi

In 2007, the craftsman established the Phu Vinh Rattan and Bamboo Weaving Private Vocational Training Center. The center annually trains 300-500 young people from Hanoi and other provinces, including Ha Giang, Hoa Binh, Nam Dinh, Phu Tho, Quang Nam, Quang Ngai, Tuyen Quang, and Vinh Phuc. Trung himself has also trained 600 workers in different provinces, of whom 65% are now employed by his company and receive a stable income.

Moreover, he has opened 22 cost-free vocational training classes for over 600 individuals with disabilities, with an investment of approximately VND50 million per class. At the same time, he purchases their products at preferential prices.

His talent and contributions have earned him numerous certificates of merit, both nationally and internationally. He was named “Craft Village Artisan of 2005” by the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages, “Ha Tay Artisan of 2006” by the Ha Tay Province People’s Committee, and “Folk Artisan of 2009” by the Hanoi People’s Committee.

Artisan Nguyen Van Trung has received visits and encouragement from many state leaders. In 2015, the Hanoi People’s Committee awarded him a Certificate of Merit as an outstanding role model in the patriotic emulation movement of the industry and trade sector. However, the greatest satisfaction for this immensely talented craftsman comes from preserving the ancient craft of Phu Vinh.