Readying for the millennium party

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Hanoi has turned into a creative camp for artists around the country as they decorate the city for its big birthday bash next year

Vietnamese artists are hustling to make preparations for a year-long nationwide celebration of Hanoi's founding 1,000 years ago.

The main events of the capital's millennium party will take place from October 1 - 10 next year, so some art programs have been finished with plenty of time to spare.

Members of the Hanoi Fine Arts Association have started to unveil their work.

One of them is the large painting titled Thang Long - Ke cho the ky 17 (Thang Long - Bustling market in the 17th century) by painter Trinh Ngoc Lam.

The painting, which depicts Dutch merchant ships docking on the Hong River to load pottery and other products, shows a prosperous trade city.

Painter Nguyen Doan Son is creating a 2.15m x 9.3m historical oil on canvas titled Ha Noi- chien luy va hoa (Hanoi - Defence works and flowers).

The work comprises smaller pieces, each of which tells a moving story about Hanoians at war, ranging from an old, weather-beaten mother who walks with difficulty alongside her wounded son, to a girl who gives flowers to a soldier as a message of hope for victory and a brighter life.

The painting earned Son the Bui Xuan Phai - Vi tinh yeu Ha Noi (Bui Xuan Phai - For the love of Hanoi) award given by the Bui Xuan Phai Fund and the The Thao -Van Hoa (Sports and Culture) newspaper.

The award and the fund were named after the late legendary painter Bui Xuan Phai, who is considered one of the greats of Vietnamese modern art, famous for his works on Hanoi's Old Quarters.

Son's work shared the prize with a 6km pottery walk, created for the capital's millennium celebrations.

Con duong gom su ven song Hong- qua tang Thang Long Ha Noi 1000 nam (The pottery path along the Hong river - a gift on Thang Long Ha Noi's 1000th birthday), which opened to the public last year, was initiated by journalist/painter Nguyen Thu Thuy who called for artists to contribute to a ceramic mosaic mural.

The mural, which features sections of traditional patterns, contemporary art and art for kids, may be the longest of its kind in the world.

Thuy produced the traditional sections while artists from other countries helped with the contemporary art section.

Another work to mark the big event is the 10 meter, 32 ton bronze monument to Ly Thai To (King Ly the Premier) by sculptor Vi Thi Hoa.

The monument, which was put up at Chi Linh Park in downtown Hanoi in 2004, was heralded for its creativity and originality in capturing the king's stateliness.

Another monument, weighing over 70 tons, of legendary hero Thanh Giong, was recently built on Ve Linh Mountain in the city's Soc Son Commune on the outskirts of Hanoi.

The project was delayed for several years and designer Nguyen Kim Xuan had to make several revisions before coming up with the final version.

Excitement building

The atmosphere at the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Association has also heated up.

Ho Chi Minh City artists at a creative camp. They are preparing a series of retreats to create works for the Hanoi's 1,000th birthday celebration.

Huynh Van Muoi, the association's chairman said members are progressing well with their projects for the birthday celebrations.

The association is set to hold a creative camp from March to June this year for its members who will create works in three categories: working in the spirit of Ho Chi Minh, Hanoi's 1,000th birthday celebration and the 50th anniversary of the Truong Son path.

"I'm painting on Thang Long myself. Painting on the subject is difficult. An artist must go on field trips regularly, capture the atmosphere of Hanoi as it is today and used to be in yester-years, and have knowledge of the capital's history," Muoi said.

"We had a meeting on the preparations for the 1,000th birthday celebration in Hanoi last week. I'll join the HCMC Fine Arts Association's camps," said renowned painter Truong Han Minh, deputy chairman of the HCMC Fine Arts Association and chairman of the Chinese Vietnamese Fine Arts Association.


Hanoi was chosen as the capital of the Dai Viet Kingdom, now known as Vietnam, in 1010 by Ly Thai To, the founder of the Ly Dynasty (1009-1225).

The king named the city Thang Long, or Ascending Dragon, to mark the end of 1,000 years of Chinese rule.

In 1397, when the capital was moved to Thanh Hoa, the city was renamed Dong Do (Eastern Capital) and in 1831, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802- 1945) renamed it Hanoi.

The exact date chosen for Hanoi's official 1,000-year birthday in 2010 is October 10, the day Ho Chi Minh's revolutionary troops liberated Hanoi in 1954, ending the French colonial rule of the country.

In 2006, Vietnam applied to have Hanoi's central historical complex listed as a World Heritage site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

A decision is expected by 2010.


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