Truc Chi, the Art of Vietnamese Papercraft

Innovative art derived from traditional papercraft.

The history of Truc chi

Traditional Korean and Japanese papercraft, called Hanji and Washi respectively, originated a long time ago, but there is a new art in Vietnam called Truc chi. Truc chi is based on traditional Vietnamese papercraft.

“Truc” in Vietnamese is a type of bamboo. Bamboo has been part of Vietnamese culture for a long time. Vietnamese paper art makes paper more than something to write on. It is  true art. This is how writer, translator Buu Y, who named this art as Truc Chi in 2012, explains when talking about the meaning of this art.

Truc chi, a pleasing element of modern décor.

Truc chi is a research project executed by painter Phan Hai Bang, a lecturer at Hue College of Art. He and his colleagues started working on the project in 2000. In 2007, supported by the Asian Scholarship Foundation (ASF), Bang conducted a field trip to research papercraft in Bac Ninh province, and the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand.

In 2011, with the support of the Hue College of Art and Hue University, a workshop was held on craft paper processing with available, local materials.

Originating in Hue, this paper art has been in several exhibitions and traditional festivals in Vietnam. Truc chi is highly regarded and is considered a kind of art close to folklore. It is not only creative but also very delicate and Vietnamese. Bang and his colleagues wanted to build the concept that paper is an art, as is papercraft. Their efforts have contributed to a new cultural value in Hue,  and Vietnam in general.

Creating the initial material, a foundation for Truc chi.
Creating a pattern for the art by using Trucchigraphy technique with a water pen.

Truc chi in technical perspective

Called “Trucchigraphy,” the process combines three elements:

  • Traditional paper craft.
  • Principles used in creating designs on material such as silk screening and etching.
  • A basic water pressure technique.

Truc chi is the art of crafting paper in its final stage and allows artists to create works directly on paper moulds. Creative ideas, and graphic textures, are applied with the support of water pressure resulting in thick or thin details on the paper background. The images and shades show clearly when held up to the light. Artists also combine other techniques and materials to create unique pieces.

A Truc chi partition featuring lotus images.

Practical application of Truc chi

Truc chi is usually used to make paintings. It is not only pictorial, but also practical and diverse.

Vọng (means longing in English) by Nguyen Phuoc Nhat.

There are more than 300 species of bamboo in Vietnam. Each has different characteristics, with different fiber qualities and colours. Choosing the appropriate material depends on the application.

Truc chi can be combined with other techniques and materials, such as manual printing, painting, or use of light. It can also integrate embroidering and knitting.

Truc chi starts as raw material, then becomes a kind of art, gradually acquiring a new cultural value.

Posters of San Hậu, an old Vietnamese classical drama, made by graphic designer Dang Thi Bich Ngoc who was named in New Talent Annual 2018 competition of Graphis magazine (U.S.A).

Text by Thanh Tam. Photo courtesy of Vườn Trúc Chỉ.

This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt

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