The two century old Cao Thon craft village in the northern province of Hung Yen is one of the largest incense-making villages in Vietnam.
At the village located about 50km southeast of Hanoi, the days leading up to the Hung Kings Festival are a non-stop work effort to churn out incense sticks for the festivities throughout the country.
Each household in the village can turn out twenty-to-thirty thousand sticks per day, using a time-tested mix of sawdust, cinnamon, sandalwood and sunshine.
Incense sticks must be left to dry for one to three days in the sunshine.
The basic materials for making incense are glue wire that is pulverized, then mixed with herbs such as eucalyptus, galbanum, ginger root, hibiscus, hyssop, iris root and juniper berries.
Little to none of the process of making incense is automated and virtually all the steps must be carried out by hand.
Each stage requires careful attention of the workers.
The last few days before the Hung Kings Festival are bustling with villagers selling all sorts of aromas of incense – cinnamon, black, round, tan beans – to name just a few of the large variety.
There are more than 100 households in the village in the business of making incense.
Many families in the village of Cao Thon have produced incense for three or four generations.