Discovering Craft Villages in Vietnam


François Carlet-Soulages



Sylvie Fanchette & Nicolas Stedman



IRD / The Gioi





The villages around Ha Noi possess a rich capital of cultural, architectural and craft heritage. Less than one hour’s journey from the capital are over 500 specialist craft villages, producing an array of religious and artistic objects, as well as food products, industrial goods, textiles, basketwork and much more. Despite the ordeals that Vietnam has endured, these traditions have survived; today they constitute the basis of material social and spiritual culture among the village communities of the Red River Delta.
The artisans themselves and their local institutions perceive cultural tourism as a way of further improving the fortunes of craft village communities. They also see it as an opportunity to attract wider attention to their heritage. Until recently, few guides or tourists had ventured into these villages, some of which are lost beyond a maze of roads and tracks amid the rice paddies of the Ha Noi hinterland. Little is commonly known of their history and the skills they have maintained. Few of these villages are signposted, yet collectively they are home to the lion’s share of the architectural, religious and craft heritage of the Upper Delta.

This book, the fruit of several years’ research by Vietnam specialists, comprises ten itineraries, blending potted histories, legends, descriptions of craft techniques, signposted walks and maps, designed to introduce readers to 40 or so craft villages around Ha Noi, You are probably familiar with the wide variety of Vietnamese handicrafts on sale in the shops of Ha Noi’s Old Quarter or in Western cities. This book will give you the chance to meet the anonymous artisans who made these things and to learn something of their lives and their enduring skills.

Original title: A la découverte des villages de métier au Vietnam : dix itinéraires autour de Ha Noi