The background paper is originally white. People use natural materials to change the colours of the paper, which are usually orange, pink, yellow, purple, etc. Colours of the paintings are refined from various kinds of tree leaves that can be easily found in Vietnam. Particularly, the red colour which is taken from earth of hills and mountains; the black colour is from the coal of burned bamboo's leaves; the glittering white colour from the seashells.
The last stage of making the Dong Ho painting is the printing. The woodblock is applied with paint and pressed on a sheet of paper like a stamp; the process is repeated with different colours until the craftsman is satisfied with the painting. There is one woodcut for the outline and several others for each colour printed, they are carefully engraved by hand so that the woodcuts can be preserved through generations. The finished picture is covered with a layer of glutinous rice paste (hồ nếp) to strengthen the durability of its illustration and colours and afterwards dried under the sun. In the past, to prepare for Tết, the craftsmen had to begin the process six or seven months ahead.
Dong Ho paintings mainly reflect the aspiration for a peaceful, happy and prosperous life. Dear animals in people’s life, such as cow, pig, dog, cat and chicken are also depicted in a lot of paintings. Paintings like “catching coconuts”, “mice wedding” and “jealously” in particular, attract the attention of many domestic and foreign visitors.
“I love Vietnam’s culture. I usually listen to “Quan họ” singing performances at the university. And each time returning to the homeland, my luggage includes Dong Ho paintings to present my friends and relatives on important festivals,” Ms. Bualian Saythilat, a Lao student from Hanoi National University of Education.
On the Lunar New Year Festival (Tet), a painting fair is annually held in the communal house in Dong Ho village, which draws a large number of tourists. Painting fairs are a distinctive cultural feature of Dong Ho villagers.