Before our photography tour started, we added on a day trip from Hanoi. The drive time to our first destination was 1.5 hours, and we made a brief stop on the way to photograph a large area full of lotus flowers. One photo that showed the scene just didn’t have any impact, so I chose to concentrate on individual flowers.
As we entered the village where the incense sticks are made I noticed this pile of ‘rejects’ underneath fabulously coloured shutters. The bottom photo is just because I like old doors and walls. I always wonder what stories they could tell if they could talk.
Incense plays an important role in the Vietnamese spiritual life as it’s used in temples, pagodas, shrines and other places of worship. Every Vietnamese family has an altar where they worship their ancestors. Incense is always burned, as it’s believed to be a bridge connecting the worlds of the living and the spirits.
The village of Quang Phu Cau has been one of the largest incense stick makers in Vietnam for many years, and the sticks are sold to different parts of Vietnam and South Asia, where the next people in the chain add the scents. There is a long process to make each stick, from cutting bamboo shoots to splitting them into smaller rods, then finally same sized sticks. The men and lady below are picking out the sticks that are not the correct length.
Whilst watching the lady sort the sticks I noticed these hats and brush hanging on her wall.
It had rained heavily before we got there and the ground needed to dry out before the sticks could be put outside so we visited the largest house in the village. The lady below could tell some tales of times gone by, but she didn’t speak a word and her daughter seemed to be looking after her. I wondered is she has dementia as she looked very lost.
These sticks are drying before being dyed.
They are then dipped in a vat of hot dye before being passed to other workers for the next stage in the process. Several tons of sticks are made here each day.
Each bundle is then stood on end outside in the sun and spread out to ensure the sticks dry more quickly. As a photographer, I was in my element and have found it very difficult to choose just a few images:) I was also however sweating buckets as the humidity was intense, and the borrowed hat (at the top of the page) helped to keep the sun off my face whilst not making my head too hot as hats often do.
This day trip was taken with Moment Lives, and some of the words are taken from the website to ensure the information is correct. (Thank you Son Trieu!)