Eye Candy from Cu Chi
An outlying district of Hochiminh City, Cu Chi is known as a rich land. Since long ago, bamboo species such as Truc (phyllostachys bambusoides) and Tam Vong (thyrsostachys siamensis) have served as images of this land as they appear along village lanes and in the daily lives of villagers. Cu Chi is also very famous with many traditional handicraft villages such as the Tan Thong Hoi Truc’s screen village and the Thai My weaving village. Thousands of products have been exported to many countries throughout the world.
Twenty-five kilometers (16 miles) from Hochiminh City, along Highway #22, you will reach the Tan Thong Hoi bamboo screen village where many screens of different types are dried along village lanes or courts. Artisans are very busy accomplishing the different stages of making screens.
Less than 30 years old, Tan Thong Hoi still has become the most famous bamboo screen village in Vietnam. It is one of very few villages where screens are made totally by hand through all states – harvesting, whittling, stringing, plaiting, and painting. The result is products distinctly different from those manufactured by equipment.
As a matter of course, Tan Thong Hoi bamboo screens always serve as an artistic adornment in interior decorating, because they make rooms more luxurious and provide an ambiance of natural relaxation. There are a wide range of styles, dimensions, and designs – from large ones decorated with sunflowers, rows of coconut trees, landscapes, and love and applied by paint that doesn’t fade, thereby meeting EU market requirements for natural screens. Then there are smaller versions for Japanese all made meticulously with the passion and creativity of people here. That explains why foreign customers readily recognize the bamboo screens carrying the name Tan Thong Hoi.
Leaving Tan Thong Hoi, about 10 minutes by car, you will reach the Thai My weaving village. The first impression is the beautiful landscape of a nice winding lane covered by green bamboo next to a spectacular rice field. Thanks to abundant raw material in the village, My Thai villagers have had the luxury of creating surprising products. Since way far back in time, bamboo weaving has very well developed and attracted hundreds of workers to work on the main products of tables and chairs. After the policy of opening up the country, a wide range of baskets were developed which earned export to Japan, Taiwan, France, Denmark, and America. Most production stages use hand made processes. Product prices are quite cheap, possible because of abundant and inexpensive raw material, cheap labor, and no rental fees for workshops.
Thai My villagers devote their life to weaving with more than 80% of the households in My Khanh A, My Khanh B, and Binh Ha Dong hamlets working this craft with all their hearts and passion. They are famous for the nice quality baskets for export. The People’s Committee of Hochiminh City has approved the program of converting Thai My village into an export weaving one. This is a golden chance for Thai My villagers in particular and for Cu Chi villagers in general to enrich themselves through a traditional job in their homeland.