A small Vietnamese village Suoi Co, which is about 45 km west of Hanoi is not a simple town. It is here, where the dying tradition of making Do paper is still alive. The paper, which is handmade, chemical free and can last safely up to 800 years.
Back in 13th century, the Do paper was very popular in Vietnam, as locals used it as canvases for folk artworks. But due to the fast growing industrialization like in any other country, this beautiful art started to vanish. Thanks to the young entrepreneur Tran Hong Nhung, her Zo project is focused on preserving this art and actually is aimed to modernize this dying art. Now the Do paper is used in producing the envelopes, postcards, calendars and other types of robust paper which artists can use for their canvases. This way this valuable is still alive and rises from being forgotten.
The do paper is produced from the bark of rhamnoneuron balansae, which is a highly cellulose tree found in Northern Vietnam and China’s Yunnan Province. In order to create a Do paper, you will need water, space and a lot of time. If to follow all the traditions of Do paper making, the tree bark needs to soak in lime water around three months in order to get soft enough to be separated from the pulp.
But now, the paper makers managed to shorten this time up to 24 hours. Then you pound the pulp flat and smooth and layer to form the sheets of paper which dry out naturally for weeks. As a result you get a soft, beautiful paper which is resistant to humidity and is acid free, and what is more fascinating can last for centuries.
Originally the art appeared in Duong O, a small village in he Red River Delta. When Nhung visited it to have a look at this beautiful art she was surprised to realize that there were only three families left to do it, and even them were thinking of quitting and searching for a more stable job.
This was the time when she started to work with locals to find the way to preserve the art and managed to bring back this beauty to the village of Suoi Co. Of course it is sill far from the tourist attraction, but the Do paper making has a huge potential in the future though. Nhung keeps traveling around to learn more about handmade paper technique and distributes the paper around the world, keeping the old, amazing tradition alive.