Children enjoy making masks themselves. Photo: VNA
The grounds of the Vietnam Fine Arts Museum on September 13 morning were full of children and their parents displaying masks they had made.

Nearly 300 children took part in a project to create masks for the Mid-Autumn festival, which falls on September 27 this year.

Organised by Trang Thanh Hien, a lecturer at Vietnam University of Fine Arts, the project aimed to share a love for Vietnamese traditional culture.

"Instead of buying masks in the markets for our children, it is more interesting to give them a chance to make their own," said Hien. "They can imagine and draw their favourite characters."

Of the many toys associated with the Mid-Autumn festival – the popular star-shaped lights, cylindrical drums and lanterns – Hien chose masks to teach children because she felt they would better inspire creativity.

"To make a mask, the first step is to shape a clay mask mold with desired characters such as the face of the Earth God, a lion's head, a rabbit and other animals," said Hien.

The children were divided into groups and taught how to use brushes, mix colours and make and paint masks by lecturers and students at Vietnam University of Fine Arts. After the project, each child had a mask to take home.

"I am really happy with this mask. I don't find the task difficult because the students instructed me carefully," said participant Duong Thuy Duong, 7. "I learned about colours and traditional masks."

The children's parents found the programme meaningful.

"This event really brings happiness to my daughter. Considered a children' s festival, it is an opportunity for children to interact with culture," said Tran Thi Bien, Duong's mother.

The event not only attracted Vietnamese children but also foreigners.

"I found about this event on the internet," said Tori Dixon-White from Australia. "This is a wonderful opportunity for my children to develop their creativity and also understand more about Vietnamese culture.

"The project is a great thing because it's fun but also contributes to charities helping mountain children".

Nearly 30 masks created by artists Le Tri Dung, Le Thiet Cuong, Trinh Tuan, Le Thong, Le Huy Tiep, Do Hiep and Trinh Minh Tuan were on display. They were later sold to raise funds for books at Suoi Bau primary school in Phu Yen district in the northern province of Son La.

"The project shows community spirit," said Hien. "Children in the city have a chance to make masks to buy books for children in Son La.

"I feel happy and surprised at the success of the project. It was supported by both children and their parents – a good sign traditional cultures will continue to develop."

Although Hien's project was small, its meaning is expansive, especially as toys made in China are flooding Vietnam's market.

The project will continue at different places such as Laca Cafe Art, 24 Ly Quoc Su street until the end of the Full-Moon festival on September 27.-VNA