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Discover ancient crafts of Vietnam at the museum

 VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi has information about the life, customs, habits of Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups, and ancient crafts of the country.

VietNamNet Bridge – The Vietnam Museum of Ethnology in Hanoi has information about the life, customs, habits of Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups, and ancient crafts of the country.


Located on Nguyen Van Huyen Road, in Cau Giay District, the Vietnam Museum of Ethnology is an interesting destination for local and foreign tourists. The heritage preserved at the museum helps current generations learn more about the crafts of their ancestors.




The resin of “cay son” (paint tree) or “moc hoang” tree was put in tanks and was known as fresh paint.






The tool to mix paint.

According to research, this craft appeared in Vietnam in the fourth century BC and developed strongly in the 17th-19th century. The multi-step painting process consists of smoothing and covering surfaces with a combination of fresh paint, sawdust and clay, and then putting a layer of primer, coloring and finally polishing the objects.

The resin of “cay son” (paint tree) or “moc hoang” tree was put in tanks and was known as fresh paint. The resin, after depositing, creates many layers with different qualities and uses.

A professional tool for painting called "mo vay”. Fresh paint is processed to become a colored compound called ready-to-use paint. It is used to increase the durability of objects and decorate items. The common objects being painted are wood, bamboo, rattan and clay products.

Wood carving



Using simple tools such as chisels and planes, craftsmen create products of daily life or delicate items.






A wooden "Dragon Boat" carved by an artisan in Thua Thien - Hue in 1923.

This is one of the olest traditional crafts of Vietnam. Using simple tools such as chisels and planes, craftsmen create products of daily life or delicate items such as hoanh phi (horizontal lacquered board engraved with scripts), cau do (parallel sentences), an thu (writing desk), beds, and cabinets.

The popular themes for carvings are ink-slab, arch-fence, apricot-orchid-bamboo-daisies, tiger-face design, and tales. Scenes of daily life such as the mother carrying her baby in a bamboo basket or girls having a bath in a pond or folk games are also carved.

Bronze casting


This is the profession of thousands of years of Vietnamese people, from the famous Dong Son culture with the most typical masterpieces of bronze drums, alongside other artifacts such as jars, arrows, ax, knives, plowshares. In the Ly Dynasty (11th-13th century), bronze casting was strongly associated with the expansion of Buddhism.

Bronze kilns were usually made of earth and brick, with vents and fuel flaps. Each pot could be used 10-12 times, but each mold was used to cast only once.

Copper and other metals such as lead, tin, and zinc are mixed in a certain ratio depending on the objects to be cast, and then are melted and poured into molds.

The most famous bronze casting villages in Vietnam are Ngu Xa (Hanoi), Dai Bai (Bac Ninh), Tra Dong (Thanh Hoa), and Phuong Duc (Hue).




Vietnamese people knew about this craft very early. There are many traditional pottery villages with own definition of technique and art. The pottery villages of Huong Canh (Vinh Phuc) and Tho Ha (Bac Giang) use the high temperature technique to make porcelain with glaze. The pottery villages of Bat Trang (Hanoi) and Bien Hoa (Dong Nai) produce fine-art pottery.

The clay is mined mainly in the delta. The potters use a turntable to make items before putting them in the kiln. The major ceramic products are household items, worship items, crafts and decorative pottery.

Folk paintings















Dong Ho village (Thuan Thanh district, Bac Ninh province) is famous for producing folk paintings for traditional festivals. Paintings are printed from woodblocks onto gio paper (made from gio trees) covered with oyster-shell powder.

The subjects of folk paintings are taken from rural life: pigs, roosters, hens and baby chickens, mice weddings, beautiful women, a woman catching coconuts with her skirt, a scene of jealousy, etc.   

The colors for printing are made from natural materials: red from red stone; yellow from heo flower; the blue from indigo leaves; black from charcoal of bamboo leaves; white from oyster shell powder. The brush to put color onto the wood blocks is made from pine needles.

Pha Le


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