Paper models of houses, cars, planes, helicopters and all manner of earthly possessions are offered to the dead.
The practice of making such offerings is observed during the seventh lunar month, known also as the Month of the Ghost.
“This helicopter was made from scratch by hand over seven consecutive days so that the order could be delivered on time,” said Nguyen Van Tuan, a resident of Dong Ho Village, Song Ho District, Bac Ninh Province.
This month, many people place orders with Tuan’s family for specific items, keeping them busy day and night.
The Month of the Ghost peaks in the middle of the seventh lunar month, which falls on Friday, August 15 this year.
On this day, many families in Vietnam lay out food offerings, joss paper and paper models of varied earthly possessions to the deceased.
It is a traditional belief in all the places that this festival is observed that the offerings, when burnt, will be delivered to the deceased in the netherworld.
The belief is also that the afterlife resembles life on earth, so the craftsmen get orders to make models of houses with gardens, too. It takes about two days to complete a model like the one seen in the picture above. The house would cost VND400,000 ($17.4).
Nguyen Thi Ngoan, a resident of Dong Ke Town checks a picture of a model house that one of her clients has sent for her to recreate.
“Clients from different provinces just need to send a picture to us and we will make it exactly as they want it and tell them when they can come and collect it. We also deliver these things. We accept payment via bank transfer,” Ngoan said, adding that the average price of an item is VND 400,000.
There are 1,500 households in the province’s Song Ho District, and 85 percent of them make joss money and models for their living.
All items are handmade, using the craftsman’s imagination.
A paper model of a car with doors that open and close like a real car.
This motorbike model that is close to the real size of the vehicle costs VND3 million ($130), as does a large model of a plane.
These days, it is common in Song Ho District to see cars being packed with hang ma (votive paper) items to be delivered to customers.
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