Research for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage on the Verge of Extinction: Vietnamese ICH Element Dong Ho Woodblock Printing (FY 2013 – FY 2015)

In the village of Dong Ho in Bac Ninh Province in the north of Viet Nam, woodblock prints have traditionally been created as talismans to decorate the Lunar New Year festivals. However, a decline in the number of woodblock craftsmen as well as rapid urbanisation and industrialisation has brought about changes to the lifestyles of the people of the village, and the transmission of Dong Ho woodblock printing techniques is now in danger. Given these circumstances, the Government of Viet Nam has issued an urgent request to IRCI, and as a result a joint research project for the safeguarding of the woodblock techniques was carried out from FY 2013 to FY 2015.

In the project, basic surveys and analysis of critical factors were conducted in cooperation with the Vietnam National Institute of Culture and Arts Studies (VICAS) and visits to crafts studios in Kanazawa city, Japan, created discussion on good practices of ICH safeguarding measures in Japan. In addition, final workshops were organised in Dong Ho village and in Hanoi. At these workshops, discussions that summarised the outcomes of the project were held among practitioners, researchers, and administrative officials. Japanese experts were also invited to present proposals for transmitting woodblock printing based on examples in Japan of safeguarding and reviving ICH.

The proceedings were put together as the result of the project in its final year and published as a report. The most significant accomplishment of this project is that a community museum for practitioner-led sustainable safeguarding is now planned with its establishment underway in Dong Ho village.

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