In the old days in Vietnam, the ability to read and write was reserved for the truly elite. Heavily influenced by Confucianism, Vietnamese scholars dedicated their whole lives to learn the classics with aspirations of becoming court mandarins. Books were bounded by hand mainly to serve this elite class. Around the world, there are two main traditional ways to do bookbinding that have been around for thousands of years: Stab Binding and Coptic Stitching.
This method is a very simple and sturdy way of binding a book. It is a lot faster to do than the Coptic stitching since you don’t have to sew each piece of paper together!
In Vietnam, this kind of binding was in use for hundreds of years. There still exists old books more than 200 years old that were written in Tiếng Nôm (a logographic script formerly used to write the Vietnamese language from 15th-19th century) and bounded using stab binding style.
When you go to Southern Vietnam these days, if you want to find a book that is made by hand, it is very rare to find such a treasure. When we first started, Viet Artisans had to search high and low for teachers inside Vietnam who still know the art of bookbinding. The search itself took us 3 months. We were very proud to say that the students, with their very curious minds, were able to learn the art in several days. And now our artisans are among the very few people in Vietnam that carry on this proud tradition of the past.
First, our local artisans fold, cut and prepare hundreds of sheets of paper.