Truc Lam

On the 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th days of each lunar month a charming antique market takes place in Van Phuc Village, Hanoi

For more than a year, tourists and antique collectors have flocked to Van Phuc Antique Market, held in Van Phuc, an ancient village in the suburbs of Hanoi that has long been known for its silk, organza, chiffon and taffeta. In the past, people visited Van Phuc to buy silk and see the village’s wooden looms and silkworms. Today, the antique market draws shoppers who browse through displays of old porcelain vases and pots, Odo Westminster clocks with echoing chimes, and countless other intriguing items.

Van Phuc Antique Market takes place on the 5th, 10th, 15th and 20th days of each lunar month and is attended by many antique dealers, most of whom reside in Hanoi and its adjacent provinces. An antique market used to be held in the grounds of the Hanoi Museum on Sunday mornings, but was replaced by this new marketplace, modelled after the bustling traditional rural markets typical of northern Vietnam, where shoppers and vendors gather in a village courtyard to buy, sell and chat.

Apart from valuable antiques, market-goers can find wartime memorabilia such as hats, belts and waterbottles, plus items from the Subsidised Era, including food stamps, dog-eared books and kerosene lamps. Many people share touching stories about the memories these old items elicit.

Many people worked together to found this unique market, which would not have been possible without the efforts of Bach Vi Thien, President of the Ha Dong Antiques Club. Eager to lure visitors to his homeland and preserve the local culture, Mr. Thien called for regional collectors to help build a site where they could meet and sell their wares. Antique dealers don’t just buy and sell things but research their origins and historical context. A successful businessman and the man behind the Democracy tire brand, Mr. Thien has long been obsessed with antiques. His impressive collection includes everything from ceramics to nacre antiques. As well as running his tire business, he is president of the Antiques Club, and devotes a great deal of time and energy to promoting Van Phuc Village.

While Van Phuc’s residents have prospered, rapid urbanisation has eroded the village’s traditions. Locals hope that the Van Phuc Antique Market will be a healthy environment for people eager to preserve Vietnam’s old treasures and customs. Browsing through rough and rustic limestone pots, examining enamel pots dating back to the Tran dynasty, or admiring agate or jade jewellery kindles our interest in the nation’s history with its many ups and downs. These old antiques shed light on our modern issues and connect people’s past, present and future.

Van Phuc Village, now in Van Phuc Ward, Ha Dong District, Hanoi, lies about 10km southwest of the city centre.