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Northern village making masks and drums for Mid Autumn Festival

Ong Hao Village is awash with colors and the smells of paint and paper mâché as villagers make masks and drums for children.

Also known as Hao, the village is located about 30 km from downtown Hanoi in Lieu Xa Commune, Yen My District, Hung Yen Province. For generations, villagers here have been making paper masks and drums for the Mid Autumn Festival, also known as the Full Moon Festival or Children’s Tet.

Northern village, masks and drums, Mid Autumn Festival, Ong Hao Village, Star-shaped lanterns, local and foreign tourists

For generations, villagers here have been making paper masks and drums for the Mid Autumn Festival.

The festival is usually an occasion for family reunions and a children’s night out. It falls on the Full Moon night (15th) of lunar August, said to see the biggest moon of the year (September 13 this year).

Star-shaped lanterns, paper masks, small drums, and lion heads are among the most outstanding traditional toys for the Mid Autumn Festival.

Today, there are around 10 households that still practice the craft in Ong Hao Village. Among them, only the families of Vu Huy Dong and his daughter, Thoan, are still making both masks and drums. The rest only make drums.

Dong makes holes for eyes on a paper mâché mask. He has been doing this for 30 years. Dong said every sixth and seventh lunar month of the year, his family becomes very busy making toys for the Mid Autumn Festival. "The products find their way to many places in Vietnam."

Northern village, masks and drums, Mid Autumn Festival, Ong Hao Village, Star-shaped lanterns, local and foreign tourists

Dong makes holes for eyes on a paper mâché mask. He has been doing this for 30 years.

Dong is also a guide for local and foreign tourists coming to the village, curious about the craft of making Moon Festival toys.

White paperboard is first wrapped on a cement mould using a glue made with cassava starch. Today, visitors who want to paint their own masks can buy them for VND10,000 - 15,000 ($0.43 -0.65) each.

Northern village, masks and drums, Mid Autumn Festival, Ong Hao Village, Star-shaped lanterns, local and foreign tourists

Some of the handmade drums at Ong Hao Village.

After the glue is dry, the painting begins. Masks of lion, monkey and other animal faces are favored by children.

Lion dancing (mua lan in Vietnamese) is one of the most popular activities for Mid Autumn Festival celebrations. Lion dance crews appear on streets and in alleys during the festival, prowling to the drumbeat and claps and cheers of passers-by.

Dong's family makes over 10,000 masks and 8,000 drums on average every year. "We don’t earn much, but we want to keep this trade alive," he said.

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Source: VnExpress

Northern village, masks and drums, Mid Autumn Festival, Ong Hao Village, Star-shaped lanterns, local and foreign tourists
 
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