For five decades, this Saigon family has produced thousands of paper lanterns for every Mid-Autumn Festival.
Inside Phu Binh hamlet, Ho Chi Minh City’s District 11, Nguyen Trong Thanh’s family is well known for the lanterns they make with transparent plastic sheets. Every Mid-Autumn Festival celebrated in September, the family produces thousands of these large lanterns for the market. “Two generations of our family have pursued this career. My parents moved from Nam Dinh Province to Saigon and make lanterns, then my siblings and I followed in their footsteps. In the beginning, all eight of us were doing it, but as the work got more challenging, only two of us have stayed with it,” said Thanh. Thanh, 50, stands with Nguyen Trong Binh, 40, with a 1.5-meter-long dragon they’d just finished.
It takes a lot of time to finish a giant lantern, said Thanh. “We usually finish our products a month before the festival, but we start preparing bamboo, transparent plastic sheets and other materials since the beginning of the year,” Thanh said as he briskly sliced bamboo sections.
“In the past, our lanterns were shaped as stars, rabbits or chickens. Now the demand has changed. We do whatever customers need,” Thanh said as he showed a goldfish pattern ordered by a supermarket in District 1. This year, the family has received about 4,000 orders, mainly from big companies and overseas Vietnamese (Americans and Canadians).