Explore the Centuries-Old Crafting Legacy of Quang Binh’s Artisan Villages

Quang Binh, a province in Vietnam, boasts not only majestic landscapes and renowned specialties but also captivates travelers with its century-old traditional craft villages. These villages, steeped in history and cultural significance, produce remarkable craftworks that are unique to the region. The local artisans skillfully create products that showcase the essence of Vietnamese heritage and tradition, making Quang Binh an even more alluring destination for those seeking an authentic and enriching cultural experience.

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Quang Binh, Vietnam, has emerged as a sought-after destination for travelers seeking to explore awe-inspiring natural wonders, engage in thrilling activities, and indulge in delectable local cuisine. This region boasts a unique allure with its abundance of untouched natural landscapes.

Nestled on Vietnam’s north-central coast, Quang Binh borders Quang Tri to the south, Ha Tinh to the north, and the East Sea to the east. Despite its relatively small area of over 8,000 square kilometers, Quang Binh is dubbed the “Kingdom of Caves,” boasting an impressive 404 caves, along with breathtaking beaches and rugged mountains.

The cultural life of the Quang Binh people is a beautiful blend of simplicity and diversity. Their lives are intimately connected to the rice fields, rivers, and the sea. Quang Binh proudly preserves long-standing traditional craft villages, each imbued with its unique local culture. Notable examples include Chieu Coi Village in Le Thuy, renowned for its non-traditional hats; Mai Hong, a forging and casting village; Tho Don, specializing in bamboo and rattan crafts; and Tan An, a village dedicated to crafting rice paper.

Canh Duong Fishing Village

Canh Duong Fishing Village, nestled on the coast alongside the enchanting Roon River, is famous for its traditional craft villages centered around fishing, fish sauce production, and dried seafood. This village holds a unique ritual that takes place on the 15th day of the first lunar month—the whale worshiping ceremony, a long-standing tradition.

Early in the morning, fishermen and boat owners gather at the Whale Worshiping Shrine to offer incense and pay their respects to the Whale Genie. The ceremony includes a procession to the temple, incense offerings, orations, chanting, and a unique recreation of a boat sailing on land. This ritual is an expression of gratitude to Mr. and Mrs. Whale, and during the festival, the locals pray for good harvests, happiness, peace, and favorable weather conditions.

Canh Duong Fishing Village, nestled alongside the romantic Roon River, is renowned for its traditional fishing, fish sauce-making, and dried seafood crafts. Photo: Zingnews

The inland sailing ritual, unique to Canh Duong Village, involves raising the anchor, paddling, and moving the boat inland, simulating the fishermen’s way of life. This ritual stems from the legends of whales choosing Canh Duong as their final resting place.

The whale worshiping ritual beautifully reflects the cultural life of the Canh Duong fishing community and embodies the Vietnamese saying, “When drinking water, remember its source.” The act of worshipping an animal from generation to generation expresses a desire to perform good deeds and live a peaceful life.

An Xa Village

When discussing Quang Binh’s craft villages, one cannot overlook An Xa Village, famous for its traditional sedge mat-making. This mat-making profession has thrived for over 600 years and has been meticulously preserved and passed down through generations. Visitors to An Xa Village will witness the artisans’ remarkable skills, from selecting and dyeing the sedge to the intricate weaving process that transforms it into a finished mat.

The mat-making profession in An Xa Village has been preserved and passed down for generations. Photo: Zingnews

The weaving loom used in An Xa Village is a simple yet effective design, consisting of two large parallel wooden sticks with jute fibers tightened as warps. The weaving process requires two craftsmen: one to sit on the loom and control the heddle and the other to use a long, thin wooden stick as a shuttle to insert the weft.

The sedge mat weaving process follows the basic tabby or plain weave technique. Artisans insert sedge wefts with an “over one—under one” motion into the warps, then push them down with a heddle, repeating the steps. Finally, the mats are washed and adorned with pattern prints or hand-painted designs.

Ba Don Conical Hat Craft Village

For almost 200 years, the craft of making conical hats has been a staple livelihood for the people of Ba Don. Despite historical challenges, this tradition has been passed down through generations, becoming an integral part of the community’s heritage.

The Ba Don conical hat craft village has been producing traditional conical hats for almost 200 years. Photo: Baodantoc

Ba Don conical hats come in two varieties: green conical hats and coconut conical hats. The green conical hats follow the design of Hue’s poem conical hats, featuring three layers of leaves arranged on 16 brims. The coconut leaf cone hat is created similarly, but with a layer of cone leaves inside and coconut leaves on the outside.

Beyond their functional value, the Ba Don conical hat craft villages hold a deeper significance. They serve as guardians of folk art, preserving the community’s production techniques, customs, and practices. This unique cultural offering has drawn domestic and international tourists to the village in recent years.

Tan An Rice Paper Village

In Tan An Village, located in Quang Thanh Commune, Quang Trach District, 260 local households rely on rice paper production for their livelihood. Together, they consume approximately 300 tonnes of rice annually. With temperatures in Quang Binh currently soaring to 40 degrees Celsius, Tan An’s rice paper production is in full swing.

Tan An Village is home to 260 households engaged in the craft of rice paper-making. Photo: Vcci

Rice paper production in Tan An is a seasonal affair, typically taking place from February to October. During the rainy season, the process comes to a halt due to the absence of sunshine, which is crucial for drying the rice paper.

The villagers produce a variety of rice paper, including black sesame, yellow sesame, and spring roll rice paper, all of which are sun-dried. Black sesame rice paper, in particular, requires careful attention, as it dries quickly and becomes brittle within about three hours. In the afternoon, the dry rice paper is collected and packaged, with mechanization aiding in an annual production of 35 tonnes.

Charlotte Pho