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Vietnam: Why are tiger models the favoured gift for the Spring Festival?

  • 21 Jan 2022

Vietnamese hope for a year of prosperity as the country’s Lunar New Year coincides with the year of the tiger.

Thousands of 24-carat gold plated tigers are hitting high-end souvenir shops. ( AFP )

Vietnam is getting ready to celebrate the country’s most important festival, the Lunar New Year, which marks the arrival of spring based on the Vietnamese calendar.

Celebrations starting on February 1 will coincide with the year of the tiger – a cultural symbol of power and strength.

The zodiac sign is therefore this year’s most popular gift as people throughout the country buy gold-plated tiger models ahead of celebrations.

The year of the tiger is supposed to bring prosperity and artisans said they tried to reflect this in their work.

"The tiger in my design not only shows the animal's ferocity, but also the power, the aim of striving forward and conquering," artisan Vu Dung said of his tiger with eagle wings.

"The gold-plated tiger model will bring me the feeling of being in a higher class," said architect Pham Quang Duc who bought himself a winged tiger model for home decoration.

READ MORE: Tattoo healing: Vietnamese artist helps women cover their scars

The Chinese zodiac

Tet, as the festival is known in Vietnam, is generally celebrated on the same day as the Chinese New Year.

The Chinese zodiac was adopted by Vietnam after the country regained independence from Chinese domination. The dynasty at the time established their own calendar based on Chinese prototypes.

Families in Vietnam prepare for the spring festival weeks in advance, saving money for food and gifts.

The sparkling gold-plated tiger models, believed to bring good luck, take days of detailed work for artisans to make.

The process requires painting, gilding, and polishing the model, which often starts with clay, then ending with a copper sculpture before being plated with gold.

"The tiger with wings model shows my hope for my works to take off and have some breakthrough in the new year," architect Duc said.

READ MORE: Vietnam's Hoi An city to phase out dog and cat meat

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