With Vietnam’s Mid-Autumn Festival fast approaching, local artisans that specialize in making lion heads from bamboo are working around the clock to fulfill a long backlog of orders for customers both at home and abroad.
The Mid-Autumn Festival takes place each year on the 15th day of the eight lunar month. This year, that falls on Saturday.
Lion dance is an exciting entertaining activity for both children and adults during the occasion.
The days prior to the holiday are the busiest of the year for Banh Chi Hung, a resident of Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, who runs a local lion head making facility.
Hung’s eight employees are each charged with a different step in the lion head making process.
These steps include sharpening bamboo, building bamboo frames, tying bamboo pieces together, covering the frame with paper and fabric, painting the frame, and decorating the head frame with fur, tails, and eyes.
Banh Chi Hung, the owner of a lion head making facility in Binh Tan District, Ho Chi Minh City, paints patterns on a lion head. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Hung’s facility offers several different models of lion heads meant for use in performances and as decorations.
These models include Foshan lion heads with fierce-looking designs and Hesahn lion heads with more gentle looks, both used for lion dances.
All the lion heads made at Banh Chi Hung’s facility are created by hand. Photo: Ngoc Phuong /Tuoi Tre News
During COVID-19, the lion head-making industry took a beating but, with the pandemic finally under control, business is seriously heating up, explained Hung.
“It takes five to seven days to make a lion head from scratch," Hung said.
"We work with domestic customers and clients from other markets like the United States, Hong Kong, Macau, and Malaysia.
"Most of our foreign customers place their orders through our Facebook page.
“This year’s orders rose 10 percent against pre-pandemic numbers.”
He added that each lion head costs from VND5.5 million (US$231) to VND7.5 million ($316).
This year, the eight employees at Banh Chi Hung’s lion head making facility have been in a rush to fulfill orders. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A craftsman glues pieces of fabric and paper onto a lion head frame. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Thanh Phong is responsible for sharpening bamboo and building the frame for each lion head produced at Banh Chi Hung’s facility. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Chi Quyen, an artisan at Banh Chi Hung’s facility, covers a lion ear with fabric. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Ly Ngoc Oanh, Banh Chi Hung’s wife, work on a lion’s tails. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
A craftsman decorates lion heads with fur to make them more animated and attractive. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
It takes some five to seven days to make a lion head from scratch. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
Lion head makers carefully test each finished lion head before it is shipped. Photo: Ngoc Phuong / Tuoi Tre News
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Ngoc Phuong - Phuong Quyen - Minh Duy / Tuoi Tre News
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