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Hanoi - Cutting Edge


In a corner of Hanoi's Dong Xuan Market, a young man wields a pair of scissors. He snips away a piece of black paper, which, in less than a minute, is transformed into figure of the young girl who stands before him. The girl gasps in delight. 

The young man is Nguyen To Hoang, a former sociology student at the Science, Society and Human Culture University in Hanoi. During his first year of university, Hoan saw a man at fair cutting a woman's silhouette from paper. He was amazed that a simple pair of scissors could be used to create something so lovely. Inspired by the artist at the fair, Hoan began to practice. He often stayed up late at night reading books and cutting paper shapes. "I have no idea how much paper, cardboard and old notebook covers I cut up," says Hoan. Little by little, he started to improve. His classmates were delighted by his creations.

Hoan decided to try to earn some money from his hobby. Armed with nothing but a pair of scissors, a stack of paper and his considerable skill, he has been welcomed in towns all over northern Vietnam.

Hoan doesn't look at the paper as he cuts but at figure of the person he is copying. The outline of a young woman appears under his scissors, he face oval, with an elegant nose and long braid. "To cut a portrait is not easy," says Hoan. "The biggest challenge is to observe the human body and to ascertain the subject's specific characteristics. Everyone is different and my job involves finding the extraordinary aspects of each person's shape".

At first, says Hoan, it took him 10 minutes to create a portrait, then five. "I have now been cutting for six years and can finish a silhouette in one minute."

today, Hoan works for a State-owned company in Hanoi. But each weekend he takes his scissors and paper to the Dong Xuan Night market. "It is my passion," says Hoan. "I do it to relax and enjoy myself, as well as to meet and talk with many people. And best of all I can bring happiness to people. That makes me happy."



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