Hanoi, a capital of traditional crafts

14:29 | 01/02/2017 Culture & Art

(VEN) - Hanoi has long been home to hundreds of craft villages. Over the years, many of the crafts have developed, while some have disappeared altogether.  

hanoi a capital of traditional crafts

Pham Van Quang makes molds for mid-autumn cakes and truncated cone-shaped cakes

The heart and soul of Hanoi’s vibrant old crafts are its craftsmen and women. One such couple are Nguyen Van Hoa and his wife Dang Huong Lan of Ba Dinh District’s Hang Than Street. They are among the few artisans still making elaborate cardboard masks in order to preserve the traditional culture.

Although the work itself requires many steps, the materials required are simple: newspapers, glue, paint and paintbrushes.

The first step entails tearing the newspapers to pieces and then using glue to combine them into a mold. The masks are painted one color at a time and then laid out to dry.

Cardboard mask making is therefore dependent on dry weather and the couple can only make about 2,000 masks per festival. These are priced from VND25,000 to VND35,000 a piece, bringing in VND50-60 million – a sum not commensurate with the efforts that go into making these elaborate crafts.

hanoi a capital of traditional crafts

Vu Thi Thanh Tam makes swans from cotton

hanoi a capital of traditional crafts

Making swans out of cotton is also a traditional craft. Only artisan Vu Thi Thanh Tam of 79 Hang Luoc Street in the capital makes these swans.

The swan frames are made of notebook paper and are stuffed with cotton, then a skillful artisan puts each layer of cotton on the swan frames and uses rice water to smooth them. The swan neck is made of steel wire and is covered by cotton. A finished product is placed in a rattan basket with cotton around and glass-beads and silk flowers are added for color.

Pham Van Quang, residing at 59 Hang Quat Street, makes molds for the traditional cakes of the Mid-Autumn Festival in the shapes of different animals and flowers. These include carp, piglet, lotus flower and rose, as well as molds for truncated cone-shaped cakes. The molds are made of wood from old decandrous persimmon and nacre trees due to its durable and smooth features. In addition to providing them for restaurants, many local customers and international tourists have come to buy molds from Pham Van Quang, whose creativity has earned him a small but important market share.

Nguyen Phuong Hung, is the last practitioner of his family’s traditional craft of iron forging. At his workshop on Lo Ren Street, he forges agricultural tools like sickles, hoes, ploughshares, knives and scissors. His paternal grandfather, Nguyen Huu Khang, forged tools and implemented machinery processing for Bach Thai Buoi, a famous Vietnamese businessman in the early years of the 20th century, and made the first weaving machine for Van Phuc Silk village based on a French version. His father Nguyen Huu Trinh worked with blacksmiths to produce weapons serving resistance fighters.

The vitality of traditional crafts is one more facets contributing to the capital’s attractiveness in the eyes of citizens and international visitors.

Thuy Linh