In the ethnic community of Dao Do (the Red Dao) and Mong in popularity for Sapa tours, the love bracelet is essential for men to be able to court and marry women. It is a symbolic object made of silver and beautifully carved with traditional designs. Emerging as one of the most skillful producers of the bracelet, the 42-year-old Phan Giao Vang has become a popular man in Sapa’s ethnic community, although he resides on the top of a mountain in the remote Lu Khau Village, Ta Phin Commune of the northern Lao Cai Province’s Sapa District.
An object for love connection
A pair of bracelets worn on the wrists of a couple manifests the faithfulness the husband and wife promise to each other until the end of their lives. A pair of bracelets on their wrists is considered their ‘marriage certificate’ or ‘marriage bracelets’ to the ethnic locals in Sapa, Vang said.
An elderly ethnic woman can give her old bracelet to her daughter-in-law to show her trust, love, and confidence in the younger woman.
The love bracelet is carved with tiny designs and many images. Each bracelet features a pair of butterflies and dragon eyes to manifest religion, a pair of female eyebrows to manifest beauty, a fish skeleton to represent food, and sprouted seeds and a rice paddy to encourage the growth of crops.
In addition, the names of the couple must be carved on their pair of bracelets, so each bracelet is unique to its wearer, said Vang.
Making marriage bracelets
“It takes me at least three days to complete a pair of love bracelets. It takes a lot of time as it is all done by hand,” said Mr. Vang.
He said he can only carve designs on the bracelet in the morning and the afternoon when the sunlight can clearly light up the tiny details.
A love bracelet is made from a Thai coin that is of quality silver. A small coin is worth VND800,000 (US$38) and a big coin is VND1.3 million ($62.5).
Due to the scarcity of Thai silver coins, some have to accept bracelets made of aluminum.