Thach Xa commune in Hanoi’s suburban Thach That district is famous for its traditional craft product – the bamboo dragonfly.
The village craft of making bamboo dragonflies started booming 20 years ago. Initially Thach Xa villagers made dragonflies as souvenirs for tourists who came to sightsee or attend a ceremony at nearby Tay Phuong Pagoda. Tourists bought a lot of the toys, which were cheap at less than half a dollar. As demand outpaced supply, more and more households got involved in making dragonflies as a main job.
Do Van Lien, a local skilled craftsman, and one of the first bamboo dragonfly makers in the village, says the craft has now become his major source of income.
The creation of bamboo dragonflies involves many different processes including splitting bamboo, making the body and wing of dragonflies, making the wing assembly, and decoration. The most difficult stage is to assemble the wings to the body which must be precise to ensure that the dragonfly will be perfectly balanced on the sticks or twigs.
To ensure durability and flexibility, Thach Xa villagers buy bamboo material from Vinh Phuc, Hoa Binh, or Tuyen Quang, home to forests of thin but solid bamboo.
To make such lifelike bamboo dragonflies that can balance and perch on anything, craftsmen have to go through different processes requiring meticulous care and precision in every detail. The dragonflies are then coated with colorful paints and vivid patterns.
Each dragonfly or other animals that are made illustrate a lively and symbolic picture of the Vietnamese countryside.
Thach Xa’s bamboo dragonflies are available across the country, especially in major tourist destinations such as Hanoi, Hoi An, Da Nang, Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, and Ho Chi Minh City. The item has been exported to the US, France, Germany, UK, and Japan.
Thanks to the profession of making bamboo dragonflies, each household in Thach Xa has an income of VND10-20 million per month.