November 21, 2011
0047 VIETNAM – Fish cages, fish traps, bamboo and Vovinam
When I saw for the first time this picture, I didn't realize what is. I saw only a huge and mobile bundle of merchandise, which I suspect that goes to the market. I knew that in Vietnam bike is a very commonly means of locomotion, maybe as much as the boat, so it doesn't surprised me, but the huge volume of don't-know-what who hides almost completely the man it did. When the postcard has reached on my desk (many thanks, Lyra), things have cleared a little: on the back writes "bamboo products" and Lyra specifies "a vendor selling fish cages". Hence what I thought they are some cornets and bags with an undefined goal are actually "bamboo fish cages".
Well, more than this I don't managed to find out in a first step. I found out about the fish farms in the Mekong Delta, about the fishing in Vietnam, practiced either as a means of subsistence either as a sport, but nothing which to resemble with what is seen in the postcard. But a cigarette can do wonders. Smoking in the kitchen, a little depressed by failure, it crossed through my mind that simply I was looking not quite the thing. No "fish cages" I had to look for, but "fish traps". Yes, fish traps are almost universal, but they have specific shapes according to local conditions and the behaviour of the local fish. Those in the picture are of course specific to Vietnam and are used mostly in the provinces located in the Red River Delta.
Some of the vendors (but not the one in the picture) have bikes also made of bamboo, but we shouldn’t wonder, because the ubiquitous and faster-growing bamboo is of particular importance in the culture of Vietnam. Naturally, because bamboo is food and building material, medicine and tool, musical instrument and weapon, clothes and paper. Basically, bamboo isn't missing from any area of traditional activity.
Bamboo symbolizes also the spirit of Vovinam (Việt Võ Đạo), Vietnamese martial arts, by coordination between hard and soft. I know a few things about Vovinam, because I enrolled my 6 years old son at a club where he practices these martial arts, in the idea of becoming more disciplined and tenacious. And I don’t regret at all. I will certainly talk about that with a future occasion.
I will finish as I originally wanted to start: is pity that Vietnam has entered in the consciousness of the world only through the uninterrupted wars of the XXth century (which practically lasted from 1941 through 1989). Vietnam has many to gave to the world.
About the stamps
Lyra made me the joy to use two great stamps. The first stamp on the left belongs to a set issued on January 15th, 2011 and designed by Nguyen Du & Đỗ Lệnh Tuấn, dedicated to Quan họ Bắc Ninh, a folk songs of Northern delta of Vietnam. The songs are performed as alternating verses between two women from one village who sing in harmony, and two men from another village who respond with similar melodies. Quan họ Bắc Ninh is recognized as the cultural heritage intangible representation of humanity by UNESCO on September 30th, 2009. The set contains 3 stamps with denomination of 3000, 4500 and 10500 VND. On the postcard is the one with value of 3000 VND.
Precious and Rare Birds of Vietnam Coastal Area is the set which includes the second stamp. Issued on May 25th, 2010, it contains the following three stamps:
● Nordmann's Greenshank (Tringa guttifer) - 2000 VND
● Spoon-billed Sandpiper (Calidris pygmeus) - 6500 VND
● Saunders's Gull (Larus saundersi) - 8500 VND – it’s on the postcard
Sender: Lyra Dacio (direct swap)
sent from ? (Vietnam), on 04.11.2011