Tam Cúc
Design, Folkway

Redesigning the tam cúc card deck was a labor of love. I was home for the weekend and running errands with my mother. Our conversations during those car rides often turned to “remember when…” Perhaps we were talking about Tết traditions or games we used to play, when my mother said, “The tam cúc cards…

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Cúng Mụ
Folkway

Thôi Nôi (“leaving the cradle”) is celebrated after a child’s Đầy Năm (“full year”). On this occasion as well as on the child’s Đầy Tháng (“full month”), a Lễ Cúng Mụ is held to express gratitude to Bà Chúa Đầu Thai (“Goddess of Rebirth”) and the twelve Bà Mụ (“Twelve Midwives”) and ask for their…

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Bánh Đậu Xanh
Food

I don’t remember the first time I ate bánh đậu xanh. All I know is that upon entering any Asian grocery store, I (and my siblings) automatically make a beeline for the snack aisle to grab at least a box or two. It’s a form of muscle memory, the way I gravitate toward items like…

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bạn là những gì bạn ăn
Design

Like the toiles that came before it, the jacket is made of lightweight unbleached muslin, a plain cotton weave I’m fond of for its newsprint sensibility. It’s a material meant to be thrown away on rough sketches, a step removed from that pristine whiteness which alienates emergent thought. The muslin, in this case, has been…

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The Crane and the Turtle
Tales

(Skip and hop to the video if you would rather not read right now.) Thousand-year-old is an exaggeration. The turtle emerged only to bellow at the cranes as they sloshed in ahead of the rains, and no creature along this reach of the river could claim more than eight or ten sightings. “KEEP OFF MY…

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A Cup of Wine
Folkway

There was no đón dâu (fetching of the bride), no thách cưới (gifts stipulated by the bride’s family). No mother-in-law had to leave for a neighbor’s house, bình vôi (lime pot) in hand, to signal her willingness to cede the matriarchal reins. The brides walked in side by side, hands clasped, as tall as the…

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Alteration
Design

Bà Nội believed that a second-hand garment is imbued with the previous owner’s vía – the sum total of their hopes and fears. Before wearing the garment, you must alter it in some way. The alteration can be a button tucked inside the hem or a bit of embroidery under the neckline. No need to…

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Once Upon A Time
Folkway

Your bà mối or matchmaker is:(a) Mom’s best friend.(b) Your best friend (who may turn out to be the one).(c) Algorithms purported to know you best.(d) Your best self, after you learn to trust your instinct and check your impulses.

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