Vietnamese Culture: Tò he

Tò he toys are made from sticky rice dough. Colorful pieces of dough are shaped into tiny, vivid animals or characters. The dye used to color the sticky rice dough is organic and mostly made from vegetables; Black made from burnt straw, red from sappan wood, green from alpinia leaves, blue from indigo plants, and yellow from saffron flowers.

Toymakers originally started out by only making the shapes of chicken, pigs, fish, and cattle. Some ventured into making characters from popular Vietnamese folklates society progressed. Tò he toys modernized and upgraded. You can now find tò he soldiers, guns, musical instruments, and even Spiderman and Superman figurines. It was said that to he was invented over 30 years ago; history books noted that it started in the 1980s.

Nowadays, modern toys have gradually replaced the traditional ones. However, if you travel to the countryside, you may still spot children playing around a Tò He vendor. Adult Vietnamese who see this will be reminded of the innocent days of their childhood.


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