Thach Xa Dragonfly Village

There are few craft villages in Vietnam that create a more adorable product than Thach Xa. While other villages throughout the country are focusing their efforts on rice paper, silk, pottery, paintings and a bounty of other artisan merchandise, Thach Xa Dragonfly Village, in the western stretches of Hanoi’s outer area, dedicates itself to the creation of one popular Vietnamese toy, a weighted bamboo dragonfly.

Dragonfly in Thach Xa Village

The dragonflies are beloved by adults and children alike for their magical appearance and acts of gravity defiance. The weighted noses of each dragonfly mean that they can balance on a finger or a table with the vast majority of the body hanging over the edge. The sense of wonder is added to by the decoration of each dragonfly, which comes in a rainbow of garish colours along with spotted or striped patterns down the body and along the wings.

Where is Thach Xa Dragonfly Village?

The one-hour drive time to Thach Xa from central Hanoi means that a visit can form part of a short day trip to the temples of the area or part of a long trip to Duong Lam Ancient Village and Son Tay. Heading straight down the Thang Long Highway from Hanoi, Thach Xa is only one right turn away, making it pretty hard to get lost.

Information on buses to Thach Xa Dragonfly Village is pretty scarce, but it is certainly possible to get the number 73 bus from Hanoi’s My Dinh Station to Thay Pagoda, from where you can get a quick car or motorbike taxi to Thach Xa.

How are the bamboo dragonflies made?

The Dragonfly Village is in full production mode for most of the year, with demand only really quiet after Vietnamese New Year. Many people visit the village at this time to place bulk orders for the dragonflies, either for use as simple gifts to loved ones or for big extravaganzas.

There are only 10 families in Thach Xa Dragonfly Village that actually engage in the craft, but their hard work of producing 20,000 dragonflies per month is rewarded with 10,000,000 VND ($440) of pure profit, which is a lot for the region.

Step 1: The bamboo

Despite the fact that Thach Xa is surrounding my bamboo forest, villagers still have to invest serious money in getting bamboo from far-off regions like Ha Giang and Hoa Binh for quality reasons. Once the bamboo has arrived, craftsman chop it into small pieces, using the supple, top end of the log for the wings.

Step 1: Choose the bamboo

Step 2: The sticking

The wings of the dragonfly are measured to perfection and are stuck into the drilled holes of the body. The craftsman has to make sure that the balance of the dragonfly is perfect by ensuring that its nose is in perfect equilibrium with its body, checking over and over again by attempting to balance it on a chopstick.

Step 2: Sticking

Step 3: The painting

Once the dragonfly can balance, Thach Xa artisans paint the dragonflies one colour before adding their chosen patterns. Flowers are a popular theme in Thach Xa Dragonfly Village, as are dots, spirals, zigzags and geometric shapes; the wealth of artistic liberty is endless and no two dragonflies are exactly the same.

Step 3: Painting

Finished Bamboo Dragonflies

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