The grand prize in the International Furoshiki Design Contest for Students was awarded at a ceremony in Hanoi on March 3 to Phan Khanh Trang, a student of Hue Fine Arts College.

A furoshiki is a square piece of cloth used for various purposes such as wrapping or carrying items. Dyed in various colours and patterns, they can be used to wrap gifts, for table coverings or interior decoration.

Trang was honoured for her design featuring a banana leaf and a red dragonfly.

"I think there is something in common between a banana leaf, which was used in the past for wrapping by the Vietnamese, and the Japanese furoshiki. That's why I used the banana leaf decoration for a furoshiki," Trang said.

Trang received a sum of 100,000 yen (1,200 USD), and her design, entitled simply Banana, will be produced for sale at art museums in Japan , according to the Japan Foundation to Vietnam .

The International Furoshiki Design Contest for Students is held annually by the foundation to encourage students to create new designs for furoshiki. The design theme for this year's contest, the second held, was to evoke a fusion of the student's home country and Japan .

About 217 design works were submitted by students from Germany , Indonesia , Australia , Canada , the US , Brazil , Russia , Singapore and Vietnam . The jury selected one grand prize, three excellence prizes, ten merit prizes, and ten honourable mentions.

One honourable mention and two merit prizes were awarded to Vietnamese students, including Pham Son Tung from Da Nang Architecture College for his design entitled Motorbike, Nguyen Thi Thu Loan from Ha Noi Industrial Fine Arts College for her design Spring, and Tong Thi Ngoc and Bui Thi Mai Anh from Vietnam Fine Arts College with a design entitled Into the Sun.

The winning furoshiki designs will be displayed, along with furoshiki samples from Japan , at an exhibition at 27 Quang Trung Street , Hanoi , through March 10.

Two Japanese experts, Handa Hiroki and Yamamoto Yoko, members of the Furoshiki Study Group, introduced furoshiki at the exhibition's opening ceremony.

Furoshiki date back to the Edo Period (1603-1868), when public bathhouses became widely accessible. The tradition was then handed down through the generations, until it began to fade in the 1970s. A recent public campaign to re-evaluate Japanese culture caused people to rediscover furoshiki, resulting in new ideas for its use. Since furoshiki are reusable, they can reduce the use of plastic bags and help preserve resources and the environment.

The two experts will conduct a series of workshops in Hue , Hoi An, Da Nang and HCM City through March 14 in an effort to introduce the furoshiki to the Vietnamese people. /.