The people in Hue pay much attention to the rite of worshipping their ancestors and for them flowers are one of the four most important and indispensable things including incense, flowers, lamps and a bunch of bananas. However, fresh flower is difficult to grow up in harsh weather with much rainfall and sunlight so the locals must use paper flowers to replace. In the past, Thanh Tien paper flowers were used for rituals or worshipping ceremonies, but nowadays it is considered as a hobby and used for daily life.
Every lunar October, Thanh Tien residents begin to prepare materials for making paper flowers. The busiest time of the season for them is from early lunar December till the last day of the lunar year.
The process of making flowers is a year-long endeavour that includes harvesting and drying the bamboo. And then it is split, dyed and polished. Finally, people keep dried bamboo and paper in store to prevent them from termites and humidity.
Thanh Tien paper flowers are diverse in color and types, such as orchids, apricots, chrysanthemums, roses, gerberas, dahlias, but lotus flower is the most famous. Making paper lotus is a painstaking job. Lotus petals are made from poonah paper or painting paper, and lotus stems from dry rattan plants. Dyeing lotus petals is the most difficult process because it requires the petals having colors to be changed from rose to pink, then white. Pink lotuses represent supreme power, white for purity and violet for the traditional beauty of Hue, but all manifesting the beauty of the land and people of Hue, especially the talent of Thanh Tien artisans.
Flower paper is used for decoration and display at most important cultural events, particularly Hue Festival, a special cultural event of state-level which is held twice every two years in Hue.
In spite of many difficulties, artisans in Thanh Tien namely Than Van Hue, Than Dinh Hoai and Nguyen Hoa still try to preserve and develop their traditional handicraft – a beautiful feature of Hue that can’t find anywhere in Vietnam.
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