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Bamboo root sculptor -- A new art form from Ha Noi (June 06, 2003)

Domestic and foreign art lovers have over the past two years been familiar with a new art form invented by Duong Duy Toan in Thiet Ung hamlet of Hanoi's suburban Dong Anh district - sculpturing bamboo roots into art products.

Chosen for sculpturing are typical bamboo roots of old age with high durability. With Toan's skillful hands and creative mind, those ragged, stiff and useless bamboo roots are transformed to look graceful and splendid. Following every act of carving, the foreheads, face outlines, eyes, mouths and beards of well-known characters in Chinese and Indian stories gradually come into shape. They can be a stately and grand general with a heavy lance in one hand, a very old man holding peaches - symbols of longevity, a Buddha's principle, or a typically Vietnamese elderly farmer.

These bamboo sculptures raise one's consciousness towards nature and deepen the love of bamboo, a ubiquitous plant in rural Vietnam.

One of the bamboo roots' attributes making the sculptor choose it over wood tree roots is that their diverse shapes can be used to depict the beards of different figures with various personalities including mercy, stubbornness and bravery, to name but a few.

Since time began, bamboos have closely been associated with dwellers in the northern Red River delta. Bamboos grow in groves with tall stems and long, small and thin leaves. People use them for erecting houses and making a myriad of domestic appliances for daily use. Many fine art bamboo products, including furniture, basketry and conical hats, have made their way overseas. The sculpturing of bamboo roots into art products has enriched Vietnam's arts and crafts.

The idea to tap mouldering bamboo roots and trunks for sculpturing came to him two years ago when he was continuously travelling from north to south and even to the neighbouring country of China in order to find outlets for his village's traditional wooden products. It was a tough time as timber prices were on a surge but the wooden product prices remained at a standstill, said Toan. The idea sparked in his mind as he watched a picture of mouldering bamboo sculpture art. He immediately bought some bamboo roots which he successfully sculptured. "It was no problem for me to change from wooden sculpturing to mouldering bamboo roots and trunks," said Toan.

After a brief period of marketing his products at fine art article shops in Hanoi, Toan now welcomes a large number of foreign customers into his home who come not only to buy his works but also enjoy the exhibits at his workplace.

To meet the increasing demand, he has to climb up hills for wild bushes aftering buying almost all mouldering bamboo roots grown by his villagers, and has machined the process of collecting raw materials.

He now employs dozens of artisans, who are always found immersed in sculpturing thousands of mouldering bamboo roots and trunks. Toan said his workers have been busy preparing for huge sales of their products to foreign tourists expected to arrive in large numbers for the SEA Games 22 scheduled for December. (VNA)

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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