Vietnam is a prime exporter of agricultural products, like rice, rubber,coffee and pepper, but to individual visitors, what comes across remarkably are lacquered products , embroidery, pottery, silk fabrics, weaved craft, stone carvings, bamboo and rattan articles, ceramic, wooden contraptions and paintings. This is a result of long established cultural traditions and a developing economy. The majority of the current population is under 30 years old, laden with the enthusiasm, agility and promise of youth. The centre of handicraft is still central Vietnam, with the hub around Hue and Hoi An.
You can see many water colours offered by local artists in shops, markets and pavement stalls. I was more fascinated by origami-like paper cuts which you can come across being sold by vendors all over the place. Best of all are the hang lanterns, available in all sizes, which are made from varying qualities of Vietnamese silk fabric, the best of which are found in Hoi An. The military part of national history has been filtered through in reproductions of wooden helicopters. Above, a young man concentrates on weaving silk fabric on to his art masterpiece , just outside Ha Noi.
Lacquer ware was introduced from the north, China, and this embellishes not just souvenir shops, but public buildings like temples and hotels and is especially a favourite on furniture. The abundance of limestone in Vietnam also contributed tot he growth of stone carvery and marble statuary. Crafts also are linked to strong musical traditions upheld by various groups like the Kinh and Cham peoples.