Hang Trong paintings exhibited in Hanoi

The Hang Trong narrative paintings collection narrates tales of courageous women, alongside the historical backdrop and way of life in old Hanoi.


There are a total of 40 Hang Trong folk paintings on display at the Vietnamese Women’s Museum.

What sets this exhibition apart from others is the collection of 40 narrative paintings, which depict ten popular stories in Vietnamese culture. These paintings come from the private collection of Phan Ngoc Khue, a leading scholar of the Hang Trong painting school. Dating back to the 19th century, they are a valuable testament to Vietnamese heritage.

The exhibition serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving and promoting Hang Trong paintings, a unique art form native to Hanoi. It showcases the artistic prowess and cultural significance of these works.

 Art collector Phan Ngoc Khue speaks at the exhibition’s opening ceremony on March 18. Photo: The Hanoi Times

The Hang Trong paintings were primarily created by artisan families residing in Hang Trong Street, Hanoi during the late 19th and early 20th centuries (although the school originated in the 16th century). Utilizing the xylograph technique, the artisans carefully added layers of paper to enhance the strokes and lines, resulting in intricate and masterful pieces of artwork.

The Hang Trong painting school is renowned for its meticulous attention to detail and smooth and delicate lines. It encompasses various genres, including worship scenes, daily activities, natural landscapes, narrative art, and decorative paintings for the Lunar New Year.

 Visitors contemplate the paintings on display. Photo: The Hanoi Times

Among the different genres, worship paintings stand out as the most popular. Meanwhile, the sequential narrative paintings depict ancient stories and legends. While many exhibitions have showcased worship paintings before, this exhibition provides a rare opportunity for visitors to admire a significant collection of narrative paintings all in one place.

During the exhibition, Phan Ngoc Khue has generously donated a collection of paintings that tell heroic stories of women. These paintings convey the mythological spirit of the tales while praising the noble virtues of loyalty, respect, chastity, and virtue inherent in women. Through these artworks, the authors inspire the cultivation of virtuous personalities that should be nurtured in today’s society. The series of paintings serves as an appreciation of the ancients and their cultural heritage.

Nguyen Thi Tuyet, director of the Vietnamese Women’s Museum, expressed her concern about the potential loss of folk paintings in contemporary society. She hopes that this exhibition will contribute to a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Hang Trong painting school, which holds a prominent place in Hanoi’s artistic history.

The exhibition will remain open until March 31 at the museum located at 36 Ly Thuong Kiet Street, Hanoi.

 Sequential narrative paintings on display.