Sinh Village’s Worshipping Paintings

Unlike the painting genres of Dong Ho in Bac Ninh Province and Hang Trong in Hanoi, the paintings of Sinh Village in Huong Tra District, Thua Thien-Hue Province, are very simple with plain glyphs and traditional colours, reflecting people’s innermost feelings, wishes and simple dreams.

A wood block
of Sinh Village.

Some of paintings
made by Sinh villagers.

Sinh Village’s craft
has existed and
developed in Hue.

The last work of the
artisan to complete
the painting.

 Sinh Village (its pen-name is Lai An) was located at the junction of the Bo and Huong Rivers in Thuan Hoa in the 16th century.  It has been well-known for the traditional craft of folk woodblock painting. As is the belief of Hue residents, each person has their own fate and they are protected and helped by each year’s genies. Therefore, people want to worship to drive away the bad and welcome the good that leads to the birth of the craft.

Sinh Village’s paintings are very simple in lines and traditional colours of red, green, yellow and black. The paintings are made using just one printing-board which is created from jack wood. It is durable, worm resistant and easy to carve to create the drawing lines and black shapes. After being printed in black, the work is sometimes completed with embellishments made with colourful lines. Some paintings are still printed on rustic paper.

The paintings of Sinh Village focus on mainly 50 different themes, typically the Tuong Ba (Statue of the Lady) painting which is to worship the female head of the family. The painting depicting Genie Cuu Thien Huyen Nu is worshipped at the lady worshiping room.  After a year, the painting is burnt and replaced by a new one. Tao Quan (the Kitchen God) painting is for worshiping the Kitchen God on lunar December 23 while Luc Suc (animals, including pig, buffalo, etc.) painting is worshipped at the pigsty or buffalo stable to pray for healthy cattle. Con Anh (image of dummy) painting with figures of men, women, girls and boys is worshiped because of the belief it relieves one of his run of bad luck early in the New Year.

Despite its ups and downs, the painting school is still preserved and developed in Hue with more diverse themes, such as nature, houses, streets and daily activities, making a contribution to reflecting the spiritual life, cultural value and aspiration for a happy, well-off and peaceful life.


Story by Huynh Ket - Photos by Huu Bao, Vinh Hung

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