Dong Ho painting, full name Đông Hồ folk woodcut painting is a line of Vietnamese folk painting originating in Đông Hồ village (Song Hồ commune, Thuận Thành District, Bắc Ninh Province).
With the consent of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Culture, in collaboration with the Provincial People’s Committee of Bắc Ninh and the specialized agencies conducting research, have set records for Đông Hồ folk paintings to be submitted to UNESCO for the recognition of intangible cultural heritage.
As their name, Dong Ho paintings are woodcut paintings, how many colors there are in a single painting, the same number of original woodcuts there are. Before, people usually buy Dong Ho paintings to decorate houses for Tet holiday but today, Dong Ho paintings are more commercialized so no one has to wait until Tet to buy a painting.
The kind of painting has been existed for quite long and it did feature the culture of Bac Ninh province and you might be questioning how the art make the way until today modern life. Well, it’s not just about paintings but it carry the cultural values and that is how it manages to survive.
The first thing that features Dong Ho painting is the paper. To made papers for paintings, craftsmen blend seashell powder with a kind of glue made by cooking the rice powder until it is sticky. Then, they use pinetree brush to spread the mixture onto the surface of paper. This explains the exotic exotic sparkling hard background and is able to conserve the durability of colours.
Colors used in paintings are all natural, there are only 4 basic colors: green (made from cajuput or copper rust), black (made from ash of bamboo leaves), yellow (from Hoe flowers) and red ( from wood or red stone). Craftsmen will adjust the colors mannually to reach the desired tone in paintings. Being simple but not rustic, the colors of Dong Ho paintings are quite different from other type art of painting, thus it stands strongly in the flow of time and even step in the list of national intangible cultural heritages.
The meaning of paintings
The inhabitants of Dong Ho village consider the art as their breath and life. The paintings reflects desire about a harmony and wealthy life full of love, mercy and grace by showing daily life activities. This is also the reason why most of people buy Dong Ho paintings at the beginning of the new lunar years as in Vietnamese perspective, new year is the start of new things and the existance of the paintings in Tet holiday is the expression of their belief.
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