BAMBOO IN VIETNAM - A MEANINGFUL SYMBOL IN VIETNAMESE CULTURE AND DAILY LIFE


21 Jan 2021

Bamboo in Vietnam is not simply a shade tree. In fact, it has been associated strongly with both material and spiritual life from generation to generation of Vietnamese.

Table Contents
  • I - Bamboo in Vietnam & the significant roles in culture
  • II - How is Bamboo in Vietnam used in daily life?
  • III - Bamboo in Vietnam’s art?
bamboo in vietnam
Source: Derek Lee

Bamboo in Vietnam often grows in clusters. Its flowers have a pale yellow color, a strong fragrance and bloom only once every 60 years. Currently, there is no official document that mentions the origin of bamboo even though it appeared in Vietnamese fairy tales and folk stories thousands of years ago. According to statistics in 2000, Vietnam has more than 70 different types of bamboo scattered across the country. Until 2005, more than 190 types of 26 bamboo genera were added to this list. 

 

image of bamboo in vietnam villages

Bamboo trees are popular in almost villages in Vietnam -  Source: Travelvietnam

I - Bamboo in Vietnam & the significant roles in culture

Bamboo has been deeply associated with Vietnamese people since ancient times. For instance, it has entered fairy tales, folk songs and proverbs; as well as common materials to create essentials such as rack, crafts, baskets, or rattan. Moreover, for the locals, the bamboo tree is usually considered as the symbol of several virtues of the Vietnamese people: diligent, eager to learn, united, and adaptable.

Bamboo tree in Vietnam also represents the spirit and history of the nation's struggle for independence and freedom through the image of Saint Giong — one of the four immortals of Vietnam. Legend has it that he pulled a whole clump of bamboo and used it as a weapon against the enemy. Furthermore, locals also used bamboo to make prongs, crossbows, weapons, or even the infamous Vietnamese bamboo traps (also known as booby-trapped stakes) in the history of the Vietnam War. All of which have made bamboo trees become more and more essential to the life of the Vietnamese people.

II - How is Bamboo in Vietnam used in daily life?

The concept of village bamboo rampart, banyan tree, water well and communal yard has been stuck in Vietnamese people’s minds for generations. Bamboo carries a great meaning not only in the spiritual life of the Vietnamese people but also in the material life:

- Crafters can use bamboo stems to make traditional music instruments (such as bamboo flute, T’rưng, khèn,...), or traditional folk games tools such as monkey bridges, swings ...

- The stems are also often sliced up for making baskets, chopsticks, toothpicks, bamboo cages, bamboo dragonfly Vietnam, bamboo pinwheels, handicrafts - bamboo, rattan… and especially bamboo straws Vietnam, an environmental protection product designed to replace plastic straws.

 

vietnamese bamboo rice

Com lam - Source: VnExpress

- Bamboo stems can also be used as a tool to cook typical dishes as 'com lam' - rice cooked in bamboo tube

- Bamboo bud, also known as bamboo shoots can be used in several popular dishes such as bamboo shoots salad, fried bamboo shoots,  sour bamboo shoots soup, ... 

- Bamboo leaves contain several medicinal properties, and they are used in traditional herbal remedies of ancient times. 

III - Bamboo in Vietnam’s art?

Bamboo is used commonly not only in everyday life but also in art creating unique species bearing Vietnamese cultural identity.

Bamboo dance Vietnam

Bamboo Dancing is a prominent folk dance in northern Vietnam. The bamboo stalks about 2m long are arranged in parallel and controlled by people. The person who manipulates the Vietnamese bamboo sticks to the rhythm of the song to create ideal spaces that are flexible enough for the dancer to jump over. A dancing team consisting of many people, the dancers arranging into 2 vertical rows jumps through the bamboo matrix, the jumper and the bamboo operator can swap roles. Bamboo dancing is often organized during festivals, Tet holidays, New Year or full-moon nights.

Bamboo Wing Restaurant

Inspired by nature, Architect Vo Trong Nghia designed the restaurant in the form of bird wings, floating over the site. This building is purely made of bamboo in Vietnam, with no steel or other artificial materials. According to Architecture Magazine of Vietnam Association of Architecture, Bamboo Wing has received many prestigious awards:

- In 2011, Bamboo Wing took the International Architecture Awards (IAA).

- In 2012, Bamboo Wing received the FuturArc Prize.

- In mid-June 2012, Bamboo Wing won the Green Architecture category - for green buildings of the Good Design Award.

- In 2014, Bamboo Wing received the award from the Architects Regional Council Asia (ARCASIA).

Location: It is located in Dai Lai Flamingo Resort - Ngoc Thanh commune, Phuc Yen town, Vinh Phuc province.

 

project and product from bamboo in vietnam

Wind and Water Café - Source: Internet

Ca phe Gio va Nuoc - Wind and Water Café

Vietnam bamboo architecture 'Ca phe Gio va Nuoc' is located at 6/28T Block 3, Phu Tho ward, Thu Dau Mot city, Binh Duong province. In this project, architect Vo Trong Nghia has combined thousands of bamboo travers, wind and water, with minimal steel use, to create a link between people and nature. The main feature is a large pond that would give you the feel of floating on the water.

wNw Café demonstrates the aesthetics, durability, ecology and cost effectiveness of bamboo in Vietnam as a construction material. This project has won the International Architecture Awards 2008 (International Architecture Awards - IAA 2008).

Bamboo Circus Vietnam shows

Using main props designed from bamboo, Bamboo Circus shows by Lune Production surprised the audience with the delicate transformation of the bamboo tree. The content of the performance is not only re-enacting scenes of everyday cultural activities but also conveying to viewers the soul of folk culture through light, sound, and stage arrangement. Lune Production currently has four main circus spectacles, named A O Show, Lang Toi - My Village, Teh Dar and Palao performing from North to South Vietnam. 

- Lang Toi - My Village show is one of the first Vietnamese bamboo circus shows that toured throughout Europe with 300 shows in 9 countries from 2009 to 2012. The show is performed regularly in Hanoi Opera House and Vietnam Tuong Theatre.

+ Hanoi Opera House: No 01 Trang Tien street, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi

+ Vietnam Tuong Theatre: No.51A Duong Thanh street, Cua Dong ward, Hoan Kiem district, Hanoi.

- À Ố Show is the most frequently toured show around the world since 2015, even though its first performance was in June 2019 at the Sydney Opera House. Bringing Vietnamese artists and arts to a new level, À Ố Show is the signature cultural show in Ho Chi Minh City, often performed in Saigon Opera House.

+ Saigon Opera House: No.07 Cong Truong Lam Son street, Ben Nghe ward, district 1, Ho Chi Minh city.

- Teh Dar: Using the main tool is bamboo in Vietnam, this only bamboo circus about Vietnamese highland culture has been continuously on tour around Europe from 2018 to 2020 across 40 cities. Teh Dar often performed in Saigon Opera House and Hoi An Lune Center for the Performing Arts.

+ Hoi An Lune Center: No. 1A Nguyen Phuc Chu street, Minh An ward, Hoi An city

Bamboo Walk

 

vietnam bamboo walk in miss universe competition

Hoang Thuy & Bamboo walk - Source: Internet

The runner-up of Miss Universe Vietnam 2017 - “Hoang Thuy” took the idea from the image of a bamboo tree to create a unique catwalk performing at Miss Universe 2019. The "Bamboo walk" honored the virtues of the bamboo tree - a symbol of hardness, resilience, indomitable but equally flexible and soft. Furthermore,  the bamboo tree is also associated closely with the Vietnamese who grew up in small villages as Hoang Thuy.

Bamboo in Vietnam is obviously a familiar image in every countryside associated with the childhood of a number of generations. You can easily find the image of bamboo, as well as souvenir products from bamboo while traveling in Vietnam.

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Hi, welcome to Vietnam! I am Bich - a passionate traveler. I do love exploring the amazing beauty of nature and experiencing the rich culture of my beloved country. Having the chance to share all my experience & travel information to you is so great!

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