JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Vietnam's 'incense village' blazes pink ahead of lunar new year

Tuesday, January 08, 2019, 14:36 GMT+7
Vietnam's 'incense village' blazes pink ahead of lunar new year
A Vietnamese woman collects dried incense sticks in a courtyard in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP

HANOI - In Vietnam's "incense village", dozens are hard at work dying, drying and whittling down bamboo bark to make the fragrant sticks ahead of the busy lunar new year holiday.

It is the most frantic time of year for workers in the cottage industry in Quang Phu Cau village on the outskirts of Hanoi, where families have been making incense for more than a century - a great source of pride for many.

"It is a traditional and spiritual job making these sticks," Dang Thi Hoa said, sitting amid bundles of bright pink incense sticks drying under the afternoon sun.

Her village is among several dotted across Vietnam making the sticks, the scent of each batch tailored to the tastes of regions they will be sold in.

This picture taken on January 3, 2019 shows a Vietnamese woman collecting dried incense sticks in a courtyard in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP
This picture taken on January 3, 2019 shows a Vietnamese woman collecting dried incense sticks in a courtyard in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP

Sales tick up every year ahead of and during the Tet lunar new year in February, when throngs of people crowd into temples to light incense during worship, or burn the sticks on the ancestral altar at home.

Hoa's family started making the sticks more than 100 years ago and her mother still pitches in along with her teenage daughter who helps out after school.

Selling her sticks to central Vietnam, Hoa can earn up to US$430 a month leading up to Tet, a tidy sum in the country where the average monthly income is $195.

Most households in the alleys of Quang Phu Cau are involved in the ancient trade.

Some hack bamboo planks down to be fed into a whittling machine; others dip the thin strips into buckets of pink dye, leaving hundreds of brightly coloured bushels fanned out like bouquets on the streets to air out.

Incense sticks are kept in a courtyard for drying in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP
Incense sticks are kept in a courtyard for drying in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP

After, women donning cloth face masks coat the dried sticks with aromatic incense paste before redrying them and shipping them off for packaging.

The work offers more than just pride for many in Quang Phu Cau: like Hoa, many earn good money making incense compared to factory work nearby.

"This job is hard work, but I am earning enough to raise two of my children to become doctors," said Le Thi Lieu as she laid her incense out to dry.

That said, she is happy her two other kids have decided to work with her.

"We need at least one to work in the business so they can take over in the future."

Incense sticks are kept for drying in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP
Incense sticks are kept for drying in the village of Quang Phu Cau on the outskirts of Hanoi. Photo: AFP

AFP

More

Read more

;

Photos

VIDEOS

Experience summer sand-boarding in Mui Ne

Sand-boarding, a popular activity amongst local children in the coastal tourism town of Mui Ne in south-central Vietnam, is attracting hundreds of tourists to the Red Sand Dunes

Young maple trees given better protection as Hanoi enters rainy season

The trees are currently growing well, with green leaves and healthy branches.

Hunting skinks for food in southern Vietnam

Skink meat is known to be soft, tasty, and highly nutritious.

Vietnamese-made app allows people to grow real veggies via smartphone

Nguyen Thi Duyen, a young engineer in Hanoi, developed the app and its related services to help busy people create their own veggie gardens.

Chinese tourists hit by Vietnamese over dine and dash

Four Chinese were reportedly injured, with one having a broken arm.

Latest news