We worked really hard to get in contact with people who were from Vietnam and knew about the the Vietnamese culture a little bit more than we did. After sending many “friend requests” on facebook to many people who lived in Vietnam, one finally accepted our request! We also found a Vietnamese man who made a blog that contained a part about the Dong Ho paintings. I posted a comment. To do so, I had to put my name and email address. That day, the man who made the blog also contacted me! Here is his link to his blog: http://zhangpro.wordpress.com/2009/09/21/dong-ho-paintings-a-traditional-art-genre-of-vietnamese/
Here’s my conversation with the Vietnamese man:
Giang: Hi Kathryn,
I’m very happy about your e.mail and I’ve felt great admiration for your national spirit as you’ve steel tended to our country. I happily contact you via e.mail and supply you useful information what you need.
Giang (Please call me like this)
Just to get everything straight, you are the person with the blog right? Sorry, I’m just a little confused because your name is Dang Hong Giang and the blog is called Zhangpro’s blog. If your are the person with the blog, thanks so much for contacting me so fast! I appreciate it very much since my project on Vietnamese culture is due in a few weeks and I won’t have much time to work on it since I’ll be on Spring Break next week. I’m also so glad you feel so much admiration for Vietnam. Since I was adopted when I was 4 my American parents wanted me to know a little bit about my native country so we visited Vietnam a few years ago, but I do wish I could speak my 1st language and knew a little bit more about my culture and the people. But from what I gathered, I also admire my country as well. They seem like very kind people who work hard.
For my project my teacher asked us a “focus question”: What is the culture of the Vietnamese? My partner and I decided to focus on the Dong Ho art because…
a. It is from the area where I was born (Bac Ninh Province)
b. It is facinating how it is designed and made.
Please tell me everything you know about Vietnamese culture. You don’t have to just talk about the Dong Ho paintings but you can talk about the food, clothing, etc.
What I know is that a popular clothing item in Vietnam is the “ao dai.” When I went back to Vietnam, I had 2 ao dai made for me and I still have them. I still have an ao dai that I had when I was brought to America when I was 4.
I also know a little bit about the food. Out of all the asian cuisines, Vietnamese is my favorite. Not only because it is my native country but because it tastes so good yet its very healthy. There was a Vietnamese Restaurant called Annam near where I lived. I am sad to say they are out of business now, but I loved going there. There was such a great atmosphere in the restaurant. The people were so kind-hearted. My favorite dish that I would always get was Bun Thit Nuong!
Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to reply to me.
Hope to hear from you soon!
Giang: Hi Kathryn,
Yes, I’m Giang, who owns the blog Zhangpro, as my nick name, because when I studied in Australia, Giang was quite difficult for pronouncing, so I named Zhang myself that others could pronounce my name easier.
Sorry, I’ve been in Ha Nam province for business, where the internet is not easy to find. That is why I’ve interrupted you for several days.
Kathryn, as you know that culture is an abstract conception. So, I’m not able to describe you entirely what or how Vietnamese culture is. I’ve agreed with you that you focus on Dong Ho painting as a significant part of many others like traditional cuisine, music, festival, architecture, costume….etc which have built up Vietnamese culture since a thousand year ago.
Therefore, I would send you some useful links which may equip you a prospect about Dong Ho painting.
On the other hand, you should ask me specifically what needed you are, so I’m available to discuss you.
All the best for you, Kathryn.
Us: Hello Giang,
Its great to hear from you. You might have an email from a person named Tessa Raymond. For my Vietnam project, i have to work with a group so she is my partner, just to clarify some things.
Here are some questions specifically about Dong Ho paintings are:
1. Are they easy to make- meaning can an average person be able to make it.
2. On average how long do they take to make.
3. How important is tradition in the Dong Ho paintings.
If there are any other things you want to contribute, feel free to add them.
Again thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions.
Wish you the best,
Giang: Yes Kathryn,
1/ Dong Ho painting is quite easy to make, but people have to learn for several months, of cause. The most important that you have to be interesting about it.
2/ The process of making Dong Ho painting includes many parts (you can refer one of some websites sent). In short, people usually spend about 4-6 days for finishing a Dong Ho work.
3/ Dong Ho painting is one of many significant parts of Vietnamese culture, especially in spring time (closely lunar new year – called Tet). Because all forms of Dong Ho painting have described that bring happiness, prosperity, a comfortable life, lucky to Vietnamese’s families. In several decades ago, most of Vietnamese families, especially in the villeges purchased the Dong Ho painting and decorated their houses (before Tet) for expecting a comfortable year. But, this significant tradition has been gradually declared by others modern life.
Please keep in touch, Kathryn.
Here is my conversation with a average Vietnamese student: Nguyen Thi Thuan
Us: Hello! (Xin chào)
I am so glad you accepted my friend request. I am in high school. I was born in Ha Noi, Vietnam but then adopted by an American family when I was four. I have lived in America ever since. I am taking a “Vietnam” class to learn more about my native country. Right now we are learning about Vietnamese culture. From your point of view, will you please explain your culture to me. Thank you!
Thuan: ok, rất vui khi được chia sẻ với bạn
Nếu cần bạn có thể gửi tin nhắn lại là cụ thể bạn đang nghiên cứu về gì của văn hóa : food, hay fashion, hay place, hay…
Vậy nhé, hẹn gặp bạn
Translation: ok, happy to share with you
If necessary you can send messages back that you are specificabout what the study of culture: food, or fashion, or place, or …
So then, see you
Us: Thank you so much! This means a lot to me. My teacher gave us a “focus question”: What is the culture of the Vietnamese. Then every student had to narrow their topic. I decided to go with art. Since I am from Bac Ninh province, I decided to focus on the Dong Ho paintings. Could you tell me a little bit more about them like…
1. Are they really popular? Do you have one.
2. Are they hard to make?
3. Are you proud of your culture and country?
4. Just your opinion of the Dong Ho paintings in general.
If you want to add anything else feel free! Again thank you so much!
Thuan: 2! Thuận. Glad to see you again.
I know Dong Ho Paintings, and almost VietNamese know them. It’s very popular. And Some one just can make it, because its method and material is difficult to reach. In spite of not holding any paintings, I have many at the front of my notebook. They printed Dong Ho pictures in the cover page of VietNamese Student, and we like that.
This culture often happens at the “Tet” holidays. “Ong do”, do you know “ông đồ” – (old teacherman) He will repaint Dong Ho paintings in this occasion for the audiences. That’s very interesting and proud Viet Nam culture. In each painting, there is a tacit meaning under its face. this is similiar in literature and fable story. All I can say about Dong Ho paintings is I love them.
Have a nice day, Thuan 🙂
Us: That is so interesting! For the Vietnam project, you have a partner. My partner and I ordered a Dong Ho painting and it has come in today! I’m excited to see it.
Just to clarify, not everyone can make these paintings because the method and materials are difficult to reach right?
Though it does not have anything to do with Dong Ho art, some of my favorite things about Vietnam is the food (I love to eat food!), and the clothing. Especially the ao dai. When I went to Vietnam, I bought 2 ao dai. I think they are very pretty. I used to have a Vietnamese restaurant near me. My family and I would go there to eat a lot! The restaurant was called “Annam.” My favorite dish was Bun Thit Nuong! What is your favorite dish?