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Soil firecrackers shooting competition in Vinh Bao
07/10/2011 - 14:42

Soil firecrackers shooting competition in Vinh Bao

Coming to Vinh Bao in autumn, you will see a traditional village festival - the soil firecrackers shooting competition. Legend has it that, the first competition was organized in mid-1st century A.D. Vinh Bao soil firecrackers consist of two types, i.e. tossing firecracker and slapping firecracker (which is longer than tossing one).

Soil for making firecrackers is collected from river-bottom. After mud surface is eliminated, it will be exposed to the late sun for slight drying. In the next morning, it will be kneaded by hands or by pestle until it becomes plastic as gum and smooth as bakery powder, and its color changes from black to glitter silky pink; then it can be used for making firecrackers. At first step, the soil is shaped into cubes with rectangle or round sides. Then a long and plastic soil bar is attached to each cube with two tips connected for making “firecracker fringe”. Everyone can participate in the soil firecrackers shooting competition; however, in fact, most of competitors are young boys. Competitors are divided into different “firecracker teams”, of which each team includes 3 to 4 persons, and is provided with 25kg to 30kg of soil to participate in the quick firecracker making competition. Firstly, soil is laminated and shaped into patterns. Then firecracker fringe is kneaded and their “edges” – the thinnest lines along the fringe – are pinched so that the fringe can be stretched out when tossing the firecracker. Simultaneously, during the firecracker making, competing teams will make “nắm kê” – orange-sized soil balls – to support firecracker fringe for not being shed. After stretching firecracker hollow and checking firecracker fringe, the firecracker making is completed. The firecracker is then placed on 10 “nắm kê” which forms a look like a 10-wheel carriage. When the competition starts, the firecracker administer who has the highest prestige in the soil firecracker shooting competitions will beat a drumroll. After the drumbeat, all firecracker teams will come into the flat and hard ground one after another in the applause of spectators. Each team will then select the strongest member to compete with those of other teams; the remaining members will stand beside him to lift up the firecrackers. The first stage is firecracker tossing. After receiving the firecracker from teammates, the competitor will keep himself stable, raise the firecracker to his face level, and then strongly turn his hands to toss it up as high and unwheeling as possible. After three times of firecracker tossing, there comes the turn of another three times of firecracker slapping. In this stage, the competitor raises the firecracker to his chest level, and then quickly slaps it down the ground. When the firecracker mouth falls down quickly and strongly to the flat and hard ground, the air inside the firecracker hallow will be compressed which creates the unevenness of pressure between the firecracker’s inner and outer, and breaks the thin firecracker box to make a boom sound. When the firecracker is tossed up or slapped down, its fringe, which is made from plastic soil, will be bursted and twisted along firecracker sides of about one-to-two-meter length. The louder firecracker booms the longer fringe is bursted which show the strength and good technique of firecracker shooters and high skill of firecracker makers. The organizing committee will rank the competition based on total length of firecracker fringes of three tossing times and three slapping times./.

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