Vietnamese Craftsman Depicts Portrait of Fidel Castro Using Cuban National Tree
|Craftsman Nguyen Van Trung and the picture of Fidel Castro he knitted after returning to Vietnam. Photo: NDO
Work using Cuban plants and traditional Vietnamese techniques
In 1983, Artisan Nguyen Van Trung was sent to Cuba as an expert to assist them with techniques for making handicrafts, and research how to process plants as raw materials for handicraft production.
Besides teaching and research, with a long-standing respect for Leader Fidel Castro in his heart, he decided to weave a portrait of the Leader and dedicate it to the Cuban people.
For the first time, I created a work dedicated to Leader Fidel Castro right in Cuba, using local materials, with the talent and creativity of Vietnamese people," Nguyen Van Trung said.
|Trung and his Cuban friends. Photo: NDO
"For people of our generation, Leader Fidel Castro is like President Ho Chi Minh. As much as we respect Uncle Ho, we also admire and love Fidel Castro. Therefore, during my short stay in Cuba, I wanted to do something for Leader Fidel Castro and the Cuban people."
Trung asked his friends to help him find photos of Fidel Castro to use as models. He decided to choose a portrait of Fidel holding a gun, because he thought that picture showed the spirit of the revolutionary hero and the spirit of the freedom-loving people of the Caribbean island nation.
With years of experience, he realized that palma leaves in Cuba can be used as material for the work. Palma leaves are from the royal palm tree, which is the national tree of Cuba. Therefore, using palma leaves to weave a picture of Leader Fidel Castro is meaningful.
|The picture of Leader Fidel Castro resembling the work woven in Cuba, which Trung re-knitted after returning home, is currently on display at the Hanoi Museum.
Creating handmade products right at home with all the materials is hard work. However, creating a similar work in a foreign country with poor conditions is even more difficult, requiring a truly dedicated, creative and patient craftsman to do it.
|Craftsman Nguyen Van Trung is a disabled person with cramped legs after a serious illness. However, that could not stop him from researching and being creative to create a surprising gift that contained the sincerity of the Vietnamese people for the Cuban people.
After nearly two months of researching and experimenting, knitting and editing, the picture of Fidel Castro was completed.
Many artists praised the soulful portrait, clearly showing the love and admiration that the craftsman has for the great friend of the Vietnamese people.
The portrait of leader Fidel Castro (0.6 x 0.8 meters) is currently on display at the Cuban Government Office.
Unforgettable memories of Vietnamese craftsman in Cuba
In 1980, through the introduction of Fidel Castro's daughter-in-law Carmen, the Cuban State sent him an invitation to help provide specialized training in handicrafts. Thanks to that opportunity, he went to Cuba, visiting the country with the Leader he had long admired.
When they saw a small craftsman, the first thing the Cubans did was not discuss work, but took him to the Nutrition Institute and implemented a personal care program to help him gain 2.5kg within 10 days.
They also gave him a pair of custom-made shoes to wear when they saw him limping because of his disability.
"Cuban friends gave me two pairs of shoes, I kept one pair, and I wore one pair. I keep them as my own treasure."
|The shoes made specifically for Trung by his Cuban friends were treasured and preserved by him as a souvenir. Photo: NDO
After more than one year of dedicated research, he successfully built a process for using some plants as raw materials for the handicraft industry to bring economic efficiency to his country. This project helped Cuba solve many difficulties in the embargoed situation.
In a large exhibition organized by the Cuban Government, Nguyen Van Trung's research project was appreciated because it was closely related to people's lives. Therefore, Leader Fidel Castro also participated in the event. Trung was able to meet the Leader he always admired, and his joy was thus multiplied.
After returning to the country, to relieve his nostalgia for the sun, and wind of the Caribbean island nation, its warm and sincere people, craftsman Nguyen Van Trung knitted another work of Fidel holding a gun.
However, this time he used native bamboo and rattan materials, as a way to express his gratitude, to keep forever the warm feelings that his faraway friends once had for him. The picture is currently displayed at the Hanoi Museum.
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