The days of waiting for summer-autumn rice to bloom, for the villagers of Ong Hao village (also known as Hao village), Lieu Xa commune, Yen My district, Hung Yen, was not a leisure time. From June to July of the lunar calendar every year, every family in the village bustles to make toys to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Entering the village at this time, through the gate of Ong Hao village, visitors can feel the bustling atmosphere with the sound of carving, drums and laughter. The vitality of the traditional craft village exists in each country lane. The places that can catch the sun, the large yard in front of the house, the wall or the road in the village are packed with logs for making drums or paper masks. On the porch, skilled artisans and craftsmen diligently carve and colour to perfect the final products.
The toys for Mid-Autumn Festival in Ong Hao village are made from natural materials. Bamboo is used to make the star-shaped “keo quan” lanterns (a traditional hand-made lantern with vivid rotating paper-cut figures on the cover), while wood and buffalo skin are used to make drums. Meanwhile, scrap paperboard and paper are “enchanted” to become the paper masks. Even the glue used for paper backing is made from cassava starch, making it user-friendly.
Besides the traditional masks, the villagers of Ong Hao village can make more than 20 different types of paper masks, with large and small sizes depending on the preferences of their “little” customers. Visitors to the village want to make their own colorful toys. Without heirloom secrets, guests can participate in the process of making paper masks under the guidance of skilled craftsmen.
The most interesting is the step of paper backing and mask painting or the step of covering the drumhead; while the trickiest step is making unicorn hair. The steps are usually supervised and controlled by experienced artisans.
Hearing the thumping drum sound, holding hand masks that are dried up, or finding fruit in the village’s market, everyone feels that Mid-Autumn Festival is coming very close.
Childhood memories from the Mid-Autumn Festival night come rushing back. That atmosphere explains why Ong Hao village has become an early destination welcoming the Mid-Autumn Festival in the country.
By Nguyen Thao (https://en.nhandan.org.vn/)