Inspirations from the ‘Rat’s wedding’ Dong Ho folk painting

by NDO24 January 2020 Last updated at 17:00 PM - ‘Rat’s wedding’ might be the only Dong Ho folk painting that focuses on the Rat. The rat has the characteristics and represents agility, flexibility, and intelligence, it is assigned first in the repeating 12-year cycle of zodiacal animals

Painter Dang Xuan Hoa: A wish for unity

My coloured painting on ‘diep’ (mussel) paper, I drew a family of rats gathering around a bunch of bright and colourful flowers. By bringing a breath of modernity into the traditional material of Dong Ho folk painting, I want to bring a vibrant and fresh feeling to viewers while preserving the traditional culture, which is rooted in Vietnamese people’s soul.

In the perception of many people, the rat is an ugly and detested animal. However, I think that any living being on earth has a certain similarity to humans as they have a shared aspiration for sharing and gather together on the cusp of the of the new year when the spring is about to arrive. That’s also true of the rat family gathered warmly and lovely together in my painting.

Painter Pham An Hai: A Fruitful New Year

I chose acrylic for the canvas as the prominent material for my recently-finished painting. Inspired and inherited from the unique style of ‘Rat’s wedding’, I drew five rats in five different colours symbolising the five elements of nature: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth.

I hope that the connection between Heaven and Earth as well as the philosophy and meanings of the five Elements will bring about robust vitality for every living being on the universe. Harmony, wealth, and luck are three common hopes and expectations for everyone for the New Year.

Festival flags, lanterns, trumpets and drums carried by the rats in my painting remind the viewers about the jubilant festivals held every spring to greet the New Year. The joy and excitement on the face of the rats reflects the cheerful atmosphere prevailing in villages throughout the country during festivals.

Painter Nguyen Thi Hien: Tet means prosperity, peace and happiness

Rats hold a strong attachment to the cultivation of a rice. Any place rice is stored as food, rats can easily find it and put on weight. Therefore, the small animal symbolises not only bumper crops but also proliferation in reproduction.

Rats tend to live anywhere people live. Known for their characteristics of being wise and quick-witted, rats are believed to signify a New Year blessed with bumper crops and prosperity for all.

It’s not so easy to create a cute, warm and lovely looking rat. Utilising acrylic on paper, I painted a chubby rat with colourful flowers and leaves decorated on its body. The rat is holding a laden rice ear on its mouth and is surrounded by blooming flowers and plants, ripe corns and juicy grapes, conveying my dream of a prosperous life for all.

Painter Le Tri Dung: Stand firm to overcome challenges

It remains unknown to scientists why the Rat – a small animal that stands first among 12 zodiacal animals. From my observations, rats are clever, swift and creative. Therefore, those who are born in the Years of the Rat always find a way to solve their problems in a prompt and creative manner. They tend to disparage money, but they can still earn money easily. They are also willing to help others.

My work entitled ‘A Little Rat and its Mother’ is an acrylic painting on a round wooden tray, which has stood as a popular serving utensil for family meals for generations of Vietnamese people. It is among a series of my paintings on zodiacal animals which all highlight motherhood.

I want to send my wish to readers of Nhan Dan Monthly a lunar New Year filled with well-being, happiness and joy so that everyone can stand firm to overcome any challenges they face the same as a rat would.


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