Guoc Moc (wooden clogs) for the Vietnamese

Guoc Moc

Compared to the other countries in the sinosphere such as China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam is located in the tropical region with the hot and humid climate that have formed the different habits of Vietnamese people such as wearing wooden clogs instead of shoes. Vietnam wooden clogs is a creation of Vietnamese people and nowadays becomes a cultural beauty of Vietnamese people along with ao dai, non la.

Overview of wooden clogs

Due to Vietnam’s hot and humid climate and wading days in wet rice paddies or fishing, Vietnamese people usually went barefoot. Formerly, on cold days, men and women from rural areas would use clogs made from bamboo roots when attending festivals or visiting friends. At home they wrote wooden clogs with vertical straps to protect the toes.

The wooden clogs is not only a protective item for the foot but also a creation in the spiritual meaning that reflects the inflexibility of Vietnamese people against the disadvantages of the weather. Because it is very inconvenient to put on the shoes under the hot and rainy days, instead of that, a pair of wooden clogs is very comfortable and airy.

Guoc Moc
Traditional wooden clogs

History of wooden clogs

Ancient Chinese books record that in the third century, the leader of a Vietnamese resistance movement, Ba Trieu wore a pair of ivory clogs. However, up until the Tran Dynasty (1225-1400 AD), most Vietnamese people went barefoot and clogs were not unknown. Another popular legend tells of a pair of stone clogs passed down for generations by a family in Cao Bang, high in Vietnam’s northern mountains.

The wooden clogs became more popular during the French colony under the Nguyen dynasty from 1858 to 1945. At the first time, the wooden clogs recieved the priority of the rich town dwellers and became a fashion item to dress with ao dai. Then, it spread to the rural areas and went into the life of blue-collar workers and farmers. They wore it when being at home, or in the village festivals and special occasions.

Up until the 1940s, young pupils at public schools in the southern province of Ben Tre began wearing clogs. Before the August Revolution in 1945, clogs produced in Hue were called “capital clogs” or guoc kinh. These clogs had soles made from coconut shells or light wood, painted white and gold with embroidered straps.

The wooden clogs were made in the traditional craft villages in the north of Vietnam such as the villages in Bac Ninh, Ha Tay, Hanoi. In the 1950s and 1960s, wooden clogs produced in Dong Do village in the Thanh Tri district of Hanoi and Ke Giay in Ha Tay province (Ha Tay was a former province of Vietnam, now it is a part of the capital of Hanoi) were taken to 12 Hang Ga street or Bach Mai street in Hanoi to be painted and sold.

By the 1970s, plastic clogs rivaled wooden clogs in popularity. Considered stylish and comfortable, clogs could offer other, more unusual, benefits. Travelers would sometimes bore holes in the wooden soles to hide gold or jewels.

Painted wooden clogs


The graceful beauty of wooden clogs

Along with the production of the wooden clogs, the culture of using wooden clogs is formed with the impressive imprint in the forms of art, poetry, painting, and in the pure memories of childhood of many generations of Vietnamese people. The wooden clogs shows off the feminine beauty of Vietnamese women because of whenever wearing the clogs, they must move gentle and slow. The wooden clogs nowadays has many different versions in shapes and sizes, it is more convenient to mix with various costumes. From the rustic villages, Vietnam wooden clogs appears on the roads, and even the fashion catwalk. Along with ao dai and non la, the wooden clogs has created a distinctive Vietnam beauty, which is the beauty of the gentle, and grace. The wooden clogs is an item attached to the activities of the Vietnamese people for thousands of years and have lived a common destiny with the national culture. There was a time when the use of clogs had subsided and seemed to be going away. Luckily, the renaissance of the clogs in recent years proves that the concept of the wooden clog’s beauty is increasingly diverse, and also exposes the attitude of the youth in the preservation of the national culture.

Nowadays, the wooden clogs is not a kind of sandals of Vietnamese people, but also a gift for tourists when visiting Vietnam. No one can resist the strong attraction of the wooden clogs because of its convenience and comfort.

From Ba Trieu’s ivory clogs to clogs made of bamboo, wood and plastic, this humble footwear has covered a lot of ground on Vietnam. If you have any questions about Vietnam wooden clogs, or want to know deeper about Vietnamese culture, feel free to contact us Vietnam travel blog. Thank you!