Hà Nội Shops

Man sitting totally surrounded by red lamps and decorations. The art of the shop as a cave of delights After all those varied ways of selling goods, this page turns to the most familiar - shops. The shops of Hà Nội's Old Town offer endless fascination for the visitor. Famously the streets have specialist lines: ironmongers, decorations, stationary. But it is their density that is so memorable, this is due to one overriding consideration: any building abutting a thoroughfare is sold primarily on the basis of the width of its frontage. Three and four metres are the commonest, but two metres is seen, and rich businesses may extend to six or eight metres. While every centimetre of the width may be worth thousands of any currency, the depth, the distance back from the street, is almost immaterial; many shops go for great distances in accord with the 'Tube Houses' that can be hundreds of metres deep. Inevitably the word 'shop' has a wider definition than in some countries, for the distinction between making, mending, re-purposing and selling is not one the the Vietnamese find important. Street view of shop selling decorations. These first photos are of shops which concern themselves... Shop selling decorations, assistants sitting outside. ...with the accoutrements of festivals and weddings Two women squatting preparing a sheet of paper. A common example of how production and selling merge in Vietnam. These assistants use the pavement outside the shop to make up cut-out characters denoting weddings - not that they, or their customers, can actually read the Chinese script, any more than you or I A shop stacked with tin trunks, stoves, cans and letter boxes. Above, some of the metal wares that shops can provide: 'letter boxes' (top right of the photo). Right, also in the metal products street, a blacksmith hammers on an anvil next to the shop shown in the picture above Man hammering red-hot iron on anvil. Woman sitting in small shop frowning at open note book. Studious scissor sales - most likely an accounts book Vendor squatting filling small bag from boxes, crash-helmeted customer watching. Bolts from an ironmonger being dispensed Street corner of shops, motorbikes parked. Many features of shops in the Old Town of Hà Nội are demonstrated on this corner. Shopkeepers sitting with some task (or telephone) at their door; motorbikes parked to provide maximum obstruction on the pavement; display cabinets to deter insects; a shuttered front wall used to hang the goods for sale; trees and electric pylons growing from the new pavements, and other assistants busying themselves around the shop Woman talking on phone  with many shelves of paints and dyes behind her. A shop of paints and dyes... Racks of gas hobs, extractor fans above. ...and another of gas hobs Woman handling rope surrounded by ropes and baskets. ...one of ropes and baskets... Packed banks of flowers. From hardware to a flower shop - a display that is renewed daily. The Vietnamese are great givers of flowers and vast quantities are sold Heated vats and counter with cafe beyond. In clusters, or interspersed between shops, come the cafes. This typical one is selling the national breakfast (Phở), as well as sticky rice, charging around £0.70 ($1) a bowl Two decorated cakes one as a face, the other with two birds. Two very individual cakes on display offering a bespoke service for around £8 ($12) Looking down on an array of sweet bags. Woman with an air of abstraction in front of piled shelves of sweets. Even less nutritious food. The Vietnamese tooth is not as sweet as some, nevertheless, such shops are not hard to find. It is left to markets and hawkers to supply fresh food The containers of sweets from a shop flooding out onto the pavement with street beyond. Manikins in light dresses, one with leg missing standing behind man sitting in chair. Manikins usually come in western sizes, often leading to bizarre displays towering over their customers; but missing legs and hands are not standard models Women crowding to look at shoes laid out in front of a shop. Bargains are in the air here, with the customers almost anxiously looking up to check if the price
can really be true
Shop stacked with luggage, woman walking past. And then bags to put all those clothes into; as a local woman hurries past with no need of airline luggage Family sitting by shop with motorbike parked in front. Two shops with, as is customary, carefully arranged and extensive displays... Looking into shop with parcels at entrance. ...but around this care life seems to dump its motorbikes and parcels indiscriminately Whole shop front completelt filled from floor to ceiling with stuffed bears. A bear shop Lacquer goods on shelves. Here presents for adults in the form of lacquer ware... Rack of bags and figure. ...and bags for other presents maybe Looking into wall of shop covered in paintings, paintings stacked along floor and man sitting. Some streets of the Old Quarter specialise in paintings
and, while selling...
Another shop full of paintings with jewelry cabinet in foreground. ...large numbers of reproductions, either classical or fashionable, they also often... Older man painting small portrait from photograph, wall covered in photographs, woman watching. ...feature artists who will turn a photograph into a portrait for you - as above; or start from scratch with on-the-spot portraits Trailers... Two men at roadside looking at metal parts. The next page wanders around Hà Nội in search of candid shots. Old signpost with distances to near fraction. The next page of the Mosaic Section is headed 'Conjuring the Abstract'.
Or go to the contents Go to the contents of the Mosaic Section. of the Mosaic Section.
Saturday 13th August 2022 Murphy on duty ...guide to this site

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