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What’s in a name

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The Old Quarter’s street names date back five centuries to when the area was divided among 36 artisans’ guilds, each gathered around a temple or a dinh (communal house) dedicated to the guild’s patron spirit. Even today many streets specialize to some degree, and a few are still dedicated to the original craft or its modern equivalent. The most colourful examples are Hang Quat, full of bright-red banners and lacquerware for funerals and festivals, and Hang Ma, where paper products have been made for at least five hundred years. Nowadays gaudy tinsel dances in the breeze above brightly coloured votive objects, which include model TVs, dollars and cars to be offered to the ancestors. A selection of the more interesting streets with an element of specialization is listed here. Hang means merchandise.

Street name Meaning Modern speciality
Ha Trong Drum skin Bag menders, upholsterers
Hang Bo Bamboo baskets Haberdashers
Hang Buom Sails Imported foods and alcohol, confectionery
Hang Chieu Sedge mats Mats, ropes, bamboo blinds
Hang Dau Oil Shoes
Hang Dieu Pipes Cushions, mattresses
Hang Duong Sugar Clothes, general goods
Hang Gai Hemp goods Silks, tailors, souvenirs
Hang Hom Wooden chests Glue, paint, varnish
Hang Ma Paper votive objects Paper goods
Hang Quat Ceremonial fans Religious accessories
Hang Thiec Tin goods Tin goods, mirrors
Hang Vai Fabrics Bamboo ladders
Lan Ong Eighteenth century Traditional medicines, towels, physician
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