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October 18, 2019, 10:30 am

Vietnam beats China when it comes to mid-autumn lanterns

(14:26:01 PM 25/08/2014)
(Tinmoitruong.vn) - With this year’s mid-autumn festival around the corner, the local market for lanterns is gaining momentum and locally-made lanterns with themes of patriotism and Vietnam’s sovereignty over seas and islands have defeated their Chinese rivals. A man carries Vietnamese-made lanterns in the shape of ships and decorated with the words 'Hoang Sa' (Paracel) and 'Truong Sa' (Spratly) in Ho Chi Minh City.

 In the past month, lanterns of all shapes and sizes have been displayed for sale on many streets in Ho Chi Minh City, particularly in areas with a high concentration of Chinese-Vietnamese people such as Luong Nhu Hoc Street in District 5.

According to Nguyen Quoc Van, a shop owner there, adults and kids go shopping for lanterns well into midnight on weekends.

Sixty to 70 percent of his sales in the past month have come from locally-made lanterns which depict Vietnam Coast Guard officers, Vietnam’s national flag, and Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos.

A man carries Vietnamese-made lanterns in the shape of ships and decorated with the words 'Hoang Sa' (Paracel) and 'Truong Sa' (Spratly) in Ho Chi Minh City.

The lanterns become available on the market in the aftermath of Chinas illegal placement of a giant oil rig in Vietnamese waters in the East Vietnam Sea from early May to mid-July, sparking protests from the Vietnamese government and people as well as other countries.

Representatives of Big C, one of the country’s largest supermarkets, said that Vietnamese-made paper lanterns make up a major portion of the products displayed at its chain, particularly educative ones featuring mathematical operations, Vietnam’s scenic spots, and Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.

Unlike previous years when Chinese lanterns dominated Vietnam’s market, Chinese products now sell poorly.

According to vendors at local markets, Chinese lanterns are mostly leftovers from previous years.

Tran Thi Minh, a shop owner in District 5, added that while domestic lanterns are selling quickly, she and other shop owners have run promotional programs to sell off their Chinese items, including giving bulk and retail customers moon cakes or candles.  

Huynh Van Khanh, director of Ky Thuat Moi Co., gladly acknowledged that Vietnamese lanterns have never sold so well like this year.

In this year’s festival, his company has launched more than 100 new designs, including those boasting historical personalities.

Ten of them which depict the Chinese oil rig, Hoang Sa, and Truong Sa amount to more than 450,000 lanterns, or 20 percent of the company’s production.

These are also best-selling designs, Khanh added.

He noted that the greatest surprise is the enthusiastic embrace for lanterns with sea and island themes from customers in northern provinces.

Roughly 150,000 of such items have been transported to the provinces, while in previous years, lanterns from the north inundated the southern market.

At Phu Binh traditional lantern village in District 11, their hallmark lanterns shaped as ships which bear the words ‘Truong Sa’ and ‘Hoang Sa’ on their hulks are also the current best-seller.

Mai Dinh Phung, a lantern maker in the village, shared that last year, he wholesaled more than 1,000 ship lanterns for VND25,000 (US$1.2) apiece.

This year, with the mere words ‘Hoang Sa’ and ‘Truong Sa’ on the hulks, he has sold twice the number of ship lanterns for VND30,000 apiece.

The price may rise up to VND40,000, he noted.

Lanterns shaped as kids’ favorite animated characters such as Doraemon and Pikachu are also in good demand.

‘Creative’ lanterns which parents can instruct their kids to assemble from cardboard puzzles are also a big draw at supermarkets and lantern shops in Ho Chi Minh City.

Gia Long Co. has launched 32 new designs of ‘creative’ lanterns branded Kibu.

According to Tran Van Tien, the company director, this year’s Kibu ‘creative’ lanterns use a limited amount of glue.

Instead plastic pins are utilized, making the items more durable and easier to assemble.

An important competitive edge for domestic lanterns over their Chinese counterparts is local producers’ increasing use of locally-made, child-friendly materials and components.

Copyrighted children’s songs are also selected for the lanterns.

Star-shaped lanterns in good demand

Over the course of time, Bao Dap traditional star-shaped lanterns, crafted for generations in villages in Nam Dinh Province’s Nam Truc District in northern Vietnam have retained their appeal.

Hong Quang Commune, located some 10km from the heart of provincial capital Nam Dinh City, has 10 villages with some 1,000 households.

Nine of them have crafted star-shaped lanterns for generations.

Vu Van Khang, 64, of Village 4, comes from a family with five generations devoted to the craft.

His family has made some 100,000 lanterns, with half of which transported to Ho Chi Minh City and Lam Dong Province in the Central Highlands.

As the mid-autumn festival (the 15th of the eighth month in the lunar calendar) is approaching, they will step up production to cater to increasing orders.

Vu Xuan So, of the same village, also shared that he and his family members have had their hands full meeting orders.

Crafting a star-shaped lantern is a time- and energy-consuming process and comprises several phases, including making bamboo frames, wrapping frames with colored transparent paper, and decorating them with traditional paintings and patterns.

The rainy weather has disrupted paper dying and bamboo drying in the past several days, So said.

Nguyen Van Ban, of Village 1, is the only household in his village to craft large-size star-shaped lanterns.

He and his family members make some 20 items a day.

Elderly people and kids also help with certain phases in the lantern crafting process either to earn some income or out of their sheer passion.

The mid-autumn festival falls on September 8 this year.

Source: Tuoi Tre
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