return icon Vietnamnet.vn

Dai Bai bronze-makers keep fires burning

 VietNamNet Bridge – Bronze-makers in Dai Bai Village have preserved their jobs for more than 1,000 years by expertly crafting their refined products. Trung Hieu and Gia Bao report.
VietNamNet Bridge – Bronze-makers in Dai Bai Village have preserved their jobs for more than 1,000 years by expertly crafting their refined products. Trung Hieu and Gia Bao report.

{keywords}

 

Age-old craft: Artisan Nguyen Van Luc in Dai Bai Village (left) shows a youth how to sculpt patterns on a bronze product. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha

 

Dai Bai Village in Gia Binh District, in the northern province of Bac Ninh, has a tradition for bronze casting which is more than a thousand years old.

The village, which is located on the bank of the Duong River, was famous because it was wealthy since ancient times, when it was called Buoi Village, and bronze casting has brought prosperity to the village for the past so many centuries.

There were even some old lyrics about it:

Young girls, if you want to eat white rice with fish [means have a prosperous life]

Should you come to Buoi Village and make bronze pots with us?

Despite the inevitable rise and fall of handicraft villages, overcoming the vicissitudes of the society, Dai Bai Village even today reverberates with the sound of hammers of the bronze makers, the noise of vehicles belonging to traders, and prosperity that shines on the face of every villager.

According to historical sources, the bronze casting craft appeared in Dai Bai since the early 11th century, thanks to its founder Nguyen Cong Truyen.

According to Professor Bui Van Nguyen, former secretary general of Viet Nam Folklore Association, Nguyen Cong Truyen was a Dai Bai man who lived between the Tien Le Dynasty (980-1009) and the Ly Dynasty (1010-1028).

At that time, the country's economy was in bad shape, and Truyen realised that the villagers were very poor.

After many years of wandering to different regions and doing many jobs, he came back to the village in 1009. He brought the bronze-making job to his home village Dai Bai and taught all the secrets of the craft to his villagers.

Soon after, Dai Bai became the "capital" of bronze handicrafts and even the Ly Dynasty had to ask them to make bronze items for the royals.

After Truyen died, the Ly Dynasty thrice posthumously honoured him as God.

The first products of Dai Bai were rudimentary household utensils such as pots, trays, and pans, which were forged from bronze.

After more than four centuries of development, until the early 16th century, the village had five artisans who were invited by the Nguyen dynasty to make products for the royal family.

{keywords}

 

Casting a spell: Most houses in Dai Bai Village are involved in making and selling bronze products. — VNS Photo Trung Hieu

 

As these people were concerned about the traditional craft of their motherland, they expanded production, and assigned tasks to others. Since then, operations in the craft village were expanded and developed a lot.

Thanks to this assignment of labour, Dai Bai has been developed to its peak, reaching specialisation with divisions. One hamlet makes food trays, another makes brass pots and yet another specialises in buying materials.

The techniques and designs also became varied and more sophisticated. The new models include worshipping tools, incense burners, and bronze statues.

Dai Bai's bronze makers have their secrets which they do not reveal. That is why their products are bought by many traders who then sell them all over the country.

As it also suffered from the vicissitudes of the market and the changes of the times, Dai Bai also sometimes suffered a recession, and they struggled to find an outlet for their products, deputy chairman of Dai Bai Commune People's Committee, Nguyen Van Quang says.

"However, with the efforts of the villagers, the changes, improvements, and innovations in each product, and every detail, the products of Dai Bai Village have today regained their reputation, and the village is as crowded as before," he says.

Dai Bai Village still retains its specialisations, with each area specialising in one type of product. For example, the Son hamlet makes worshipping tools and pots, the Tay hamlet specialises in food trays and gongs, the Giua hamlet specialises in making water pots and the Ngoai hamlet makes cooking pots.

Products of Dai Bai still keep their brand name and make an impact on consumers in the country.

Nguyen Xuan Huong, head of the craft village's Relics Management Board says the village now has 1,500 households with 8,000 people.

"Among them, 800 households are directly involved in bronze-making. Our village has 2,400 bronze makers, including eight national-level artisans," he says.

Huong says proudly, "In my village, even children know how to refine bronze. They know how to select different kinds of bronze, to process and manipulate items. What the villagers know best is the bronze craft."

In every corner of the ancient village, visitors can hear the sound of the job and see the makers busy at work.

In this village, people aged 50 can retire. Children learn how to do the job since they were little, and they can officially start working at the age of 15. At the age of 20 they can make the most refined items.

Artisan Nguyen Van Luc says, "We have lived with fire. In our modern times, we do not need to be famous. We feel satisfied that we can make products both beautiful and durable, and that is enough."

"We villagers have kept the fires burning for the past one thousand years making bronze products, and this has been our success," he said.

Luc says villagers make their products during the summer to store it.

"We sell our products in time before Tet Lunar New Year. At that time, vehicles belonging to traders crowd the village and all the products are sold out," he says.

When asked about the know-how villagers learned from their history of 1,000 years, Luc and other artisans shake their heads.

"Everyone has his secrets. But we cannot say it as we would be committing a sin to our ancestors.

"Previously, our village even banned girls from getting married with men from other villages to protect our secret. Anyone who revealed the secret would be expelled," he says.

VNS

MORE NEWS

Corporate bond market struggling with challenges

The size of the corporate bond market is estimated at some VND1,374 trillion, equivalent to 15% of GDP. The Government aims to raise this figure to 20% by 2025.

President requires greater efforts to promote value of Ngoc Linh ginseng

Ngoc Linh ginseng deserves the "National treasure" title, and it is necessary to strongly promote the role of this treasure in improving people's livelihoods, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said .

EVFTA outpaces CPTPP in preference utilisation rate

The utilisation rate of tax incentives set out in the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) during Q1 soared by over 32%, representing a four-fold rise compared to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Refusal to issue visas to new VN passport causes problems for travel firms

The rejection of Vietnam’s new passport by some EU member countries is affecting HCM City tourism companies since their customers are unable to travel to those countries.

Vietnam set to scrap COVID quarantine for imported processed seafood

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has removed COVID-related quarantine requirements for frozen processed seafood products imported for the purpose of reprocessing for export.

HCM City seeks to boost technology transfer from universities

Huynh Kim Tuoc, managing director of Sai Gon Innovation Hub's (SiHub) Start-up Support Centre under the HCM City Department of Science and Technology, affirmed Vietnam holds tremendous potential for technology development

Vigilance urged against COVID-19 amid emergence of new epidemics

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh asked ministries, agencies and localities to maintain vigilance against COVID-19 while addressing a meeting in Hanoi on Saturday.

Vietnamese, British agencies coordinate in identifying fire victims

The Consular Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese Embassy in the UK will continue to coordinate with Vietnamese and British agencies to identify victims in a blaze in Greater Manchester on May 7.

Photo contest highlighting beauty of Vietnamese islands kicks off

Professional and amateur photographers across Vietnam are encouraged to compete in a photo contest highlighting the beauty of Vietnamese Hoang Sa and Truong Sa islands.

Enjoying Quang-style noodle soup in the place where it was born

Phu Chiem Village in Dien Phuong Commune, Dien Ban District, Quang Nam Province, is where the popular Quang-style noodle soup was first created. And where better to taste this specialty than the place where it was born.

Exploring hidden spots on Co To Island

Aside from white sand, the blue sea and fresh air, Co To Island in Quang Ninh Province has several other beautiful spots that are worth a visit.

Vietnamese leaders extend sympathy to Cuba over oil tank explosion

Top Vietnamese leaders have sent messages of sympathy to their Cuban counterparts over severe losses caused by a massive blaze in an oil storage facility in Cuba’s province of Matanzas on August 5.

CNN reporter loves Vietnamese fish sauce

Chris Dwyer, a reporter for CNN, says he has loved Vietnamese fish sauce made in Phu Quoc (South Vietnam), though it was not easy to taste at the beginning.

Apple CEO Tim Cook appreciates Vietnam market potential

Vietnam, together with Brazil, Indonesia and India that are emerging markets, have made practical contributions to Apple’s group’s outstanding performance in the second quarter of this year, said CEO Tim Cook.

Electronics manufacturers ‘forget’ to recall or recycle used products

Large electronics manufacturers are still not willing to participate in the collecting and recycling of electronic waste to ensure a good living environment for people.
back_to_top