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General information on Dó paper

Paper first appeared in Vietnam in the 3rd century, but Dó paper originated in the 13th century. It is manufactured through a complex process, consisting of up to 100 steps. We can find different kinds of Dó paper such as the Sắc paper for example. Dó paper is known for being very durable and resilient, with a slightly textured surface.

Although holding a lot of cultural and historical values, the practice of making Dó and Sắc papers is at risk of disappearing. Modern society lose touch with its own tradition, and the industrialization didn’t help either.

The Vietnamese traditional craft is extremely rich in terms of variety and quality, but many professions and craft villages have now disappeared over time, including some types of paper making, which is now a fading tradition.

The Dó paper is made of fresh bark from the Rhamnoneuron balansae tree that can only be found in Northern Vietnam. The fabrication of Dó paper requires high skills and secrets that generations have passed on since hundreds of years. This kind of paper was originally used for official documents often ornamented by pure gold and silver, and it could also be dyed with powder extracted from the flower of the pagoda tree.

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The Dó paper is well-known for being quite tough and very durable; that’s why it was used to produce the famous Dong Ho paintings. These paintings are a big part of the Vietnamese culture and traditions, although now, they are just a brand for bad quality products, which is a shame considering how precious and durable the original paintings are.

This traditional Dó paper has a long history in the Vietnamese culture, with special quality standards that other ordinary papers don’t have. This paper making tradition and the whole process behind it is closely linked to ethnicity, with Thang Long – Hanoi thousand-year civilization, which vividly demonstrates the ability to work creatively and the virtue of hard-work of many generations of artisans and craftsmen from traditional craft villages.

That’s why Zó Project hopes to revive the practice by applying this timeless craft in contemporary uses. We are promoting creativity through artistic, yet practical products made from Dó paper, as well as holding events and workshops that will familiarize younger generations with the tradition. It is very important for us to make sure the secrets of fabrication of do paper are kept alive for the next generations and don’t disappear with the paper makers.

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