Animal toy made of rice powder – the traditional plaything of children on the occasion of Mid-Autumn, was about to disappear some time ago. Thanks to the great efforts of artisan Dang Van Hau, 37, from Xuan La Village, Phu Xuyen District, Hanoi, the figurines have recently been revived.
In addition to the 5-pointed star lantern, lion head and drum, animal toys made of rice powder used to be iconic playthings on the occasion of the Full Moon Festival. The advent of sophisticated toys threatened the existence of rice powder figurines.
Now, these exquisite toys have gradually reappeared in Hang Ma Street since 2017, thanks to the efforts of young artisan Dang Van Hau.
With the help of folk artisan Pham Nguyet Anh, these toys have been successfully restored by Hau, based solely on some documents and images that remained in the memory of the famous artist Trinh Bach.
According to Hau, powdered toys are divided into three categories: The edible To he toys made by artisans from To He Village, Phu Xuyen District, Hanoi; the Dong Xuan glossy-painted powder toy made by residents living in Hang Ma, Hang Luoc, Hang Duong, and Dong Xuan streets in their spare time; and the sophisticated Pho Khach powder toy created by the overseas Chinese who used to live in Hang Buom and Ma May streets.
The powder toys created by Hau are a combination of all these three categories.
The Dong Xuan-styled colorful tigers were created by Hau. Traditionally, Dong Xuan toy figurines are made from powder and covered with a thin layer of glossy paint, in the shape of a tiger, cat, or bird.
This set of toys called “Four Spirits” is representative of the Pho Khach style. The toys are more elaborately crafted, mimicking the mascots of Chinese origin.
The “Five Tigers” set was created based on the five tigers in Hang Trong folk painting.
It takes Hau hours to create a powder toy. “More than just toys, each of the powder figurines tells the history, conveys cultural values and even lessons,” he stated.
Thanks to the improvement in materials, the animal toys created by Hau can keep their shape and color for about two years.
Hau’s stall at 75 Hang Ma Street attracts hundreds of people who love traditional values.
He has opened some vocational classes for those interested in this traditional profession. The artisan hopes that this craft of toy making will not be forgotten once again.
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