Kim Hoang villagers were mostly migrants from the central province of Thanh Hoa in the 1700s. At that time Dong Ho and Hang Trong were two famous folk painting genres in Hanoi.
Some Kim Hoang artists realized that Dong Ho and Hang Trong paintings were not really suitable for rural people in term of artistic taste and price. They created a new school of folk painting that combined the two traditional painting genres.
Nguyen Si and Nguyen The were two clans that pioneered Kim Hoang paintings, which saw their heyday in the early 19th century. During heavy flooding in 1915, many Kim Hoang engravings were subsided toward oblivion. The art was all but abandoned when the village faced crop losses and famine in 1945.
60-year-old Nguyen Sy Tien said “This is an old folk painting genre. When I was small, old people often talked about it. My ancestors were the founders of this genre. Many engravings were lost during a historic flood. In 1945 the villagers suffered a terrible famine. The art almost disappeared then.”
Van Canh villagers and the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum developed a project to revive Kim Hoang paintings. Dao Dinh Trung, one of the initiators of the project, says that over the past 3 years they have revived Kim Hoang folk painting from old paintings owned by the Museum and a private collector in France.
“We have 60 paintings. We have reproduced engravings of animals such as chickens and pigs. We have studied and compared Kim Hoang paintings with other genres to see the similarities and differences. Kim Hoang paintings are very different from folk paintings of other villages,” Trung said.
The project has invited artists from other villages to share their expertise and techniques to reproduce engravings.
Dong Ho paintings are printed on poonah paper, Hang Trong paintings on white paper, and Kim Hoang paintings on red, pink, and orange paper. Images are simple rural scenes, farm animals such as chickens and pigs, and New Year’s themes.
“The painting materials are from nature. We have restored old engravings and invited Dong Ho village to make engravings from old paintings. We use red poonah paper,” said Nguyen Sy Tien.
In 2016 Kim Hoang folk paintings were displayed at the “Exhibition of Vietnam’s 12 most popular folk painting genres” at the Vietnam Museum of Fine Art. Now visitors can contemplate Kim Hoang folk paintings at Kim Hoang communal house, Hoai Duc district.