Our first find was the traditional handwoven bamboo rattan products made in the workshop of artisan Nguyen Van Tinh. We heard through our Vietnamese friend that this workshop was making the exact sort of hand made products that we were looking for, so we took a trip to check it out.
In Phu Vinh, a village outside of the capital city Hanoi, the raw materials for these products are grown, harvested, processed, and woven by hand. There are several artists here who still preserve the traditional process, each with their own style. Our friend assured us the Mr. Nguyen's shop had what we were looking for.
Mr. Nguyen directed us via phone to his workshop where we met him and got to see some weaving in action. He employs many people in his workshop, all trained in the art of bamboo weaving. The working conditions were very relaxed, and the people were happy. We noticed that many of the employees were older, or dressed in traditional clothing. It wasn't long until Mr. Nguyen explained his purpose.
This traditional practice is fading in Vietnam as factories and automated production have been developing for the past 20-30 years. Young people from his village no longer begin to learn the art form, as they seek work in factories and other businesses. Unfortunately it's not just an economic thing, the culture of handcrafting is also fading in Vietnam and the rest of the world. So, Mr. Nguyen employs people in his workshop who are unable to find work in other places, such as women, older people, or members of minority ethnic groups. This helps him give back to the community, while taking on his own mission of preserving his craft.
The bamboo weaving technique was taught to him by his father, and him by his father, and so on. He views it has his purpose to preserve and pass on this work to his descendants. It's truly a family endeavor, as his son now assists with the running of their workshop. But Mr. Nguyen's skill ultimately shines in his one of a kind pieces. While is apprentices and workers tackle the more basic weaving techniques, he himself occasionally weaves a more complex piece, sometimes massive undertakings with breathtaking beauty, like the Guinness World Record 6 meter vase he crafted. He is also well-traveled, having presented his technique in various countries like India and Japan. It's all a part of his personal mission to ensure the continuation of this art form.
Hearing this solidified our support for Mr. Nguyen even further. Not only does his shop produce handmade traditional goods, but he follows ethical practices out of his own good will to help people in need while also keeping an ancient tradition alive.
We are excited to be able to support Mr. Nguyen on his mission preserve bamboo rattan weaving for the future! We have ordered a variety of functional art items made in Mr. Nguyen's shop; they add the perfect touch to any room.