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Hanoi’s birdcage craft village is unique in Vietnam

The reputation of the birdcage craft village comes from the artisans’ great knowledge about the behavior and the shape of different birds to make suitable cages in terms of both shape and size.

Many visitors go to Canh Hoach Village, Dan Hoa Commune in Hanoi’s outskirt district of Thanh Oai to buy birdcages, as this is a unique craft village in the country specializing in making birdcage.

Canh Hoach’s birdcages are intricately hand-made in all shapes and sizes. They attract foreign customers because they are not only beautiful and endurable but considered to be luxury items, especially for those living in Japan and Taiwan (China).

Bird tenders are very finicky in selecting birdcages. It is not accidental that they select the cages made by Canh Hoach craftsmen. These cages satisfy three requirements: durability, beauty and luxuriousness. These criteria have created the brand name of the craft village.

Canh Hoach’s birdcages satisfy three requirements: durability, beauty and luxuriousness. Photo: Tat Son

Canh Hoach has been making birdcages for hundreds of years. Artisan Nguyen Van Ty is considered the village’s pioneer. He handed down the craft to his son Nguyen Van Nghi, also known as Ba Mi, whose talent was widely recognized.

Nowadays, Ba Mi’s son, Nguyen Van Nghe, is the only villager who has been granted the title “Skillful Artisan” by Hanoi’s government in 2008.

“Birdcages made by Canh Hoach villagers are beautiful and durable. They are so famous that not only bird tenders in areas nearby, but numerous connoisseurs from all over the country and foreigners sought favorite birdcages in the village,” Artisan Nghe told the Hanoitimes. 

“In the French colonial era, villagers took great pride of their signature bird cages that won various medals in exhibitions in Hanoi,” Nghe said, adding that he feels so proud when his family was commissioned to make ten birdcages to hang in the stilt house in the Presidential Palace in the capital city.

“Material selection is so important as a birdcage must be made of ivory bamboo. We must go as far as to northern mountainous provinces of Cao Bang to get the best ivory bamboo or to Vinh Phuc to buy bamboo of high quality,” he added.

 Artisan Nguyen Van Nghe, is a famous birdcage builder in Canh Hoach Village. Photo: Tat Son

"To meet the three criteria of durability, beauty, luxuriousness, the village’s craftsmen must undergo many complicated stages to make the product. A beautiful and standard birdcage is the one when you look at the bars on one side, they will hide the bars of the other side. Each type of birdcage is suitable for a certain kind of bird,” Nghe explained.

Uncle Ban, 72 years old, a long-time artisan in Canh Hoach Village, said that the craft of making birdcages in the village has been passed down from generation to generation and helped local people increase their incomes.

In the past, it was only made by hand, now with machinery, the productivity is higher and the designs are also more diverse. The artisans’ skillful and talented hands have created unmatched beautiful birdcages.

“The village’s products are supplied to numerous localities in Vietnam and exported to many foreign countries for its high quality and nice decoration. My family produces around ten birdcages per day. All of them are sold out immediately,” Ban told the Hanoitimes. 

The reputation of the birdcage craft village comes from the artisans’ great knowledge about the behavior and the shape of different birds to make suitable cages in terms of both shape and size.

Craftsmen must know thoroughly about birds’ characteristics and habits to make proper cages for them. Photo: Tien Sy

Nguyen Van Khanh, the owner of the largest workshop in Canh Hoach, said that to make a beautiful birdcage, besides skillfulness, craftsmen must know thoroughly about birds’ characteristics and living habits to make proper cages for them.

“We usually make birdcages when we receive the orders from bird owners. We have to discuss with customers to know about the types of birds that they are petting so that we can design proper cages. That also requires the sophistication of the craftsman,” Khanh told the Hanoitimes.

“My family sells high-quality bird cages in bulk that cost US$66 each. Mass-produced cages are priced at nearly US$27 each. My products are sold domestically and exported to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia. Singapore buys the most, between 50 and 70 cages a month,” he added.

Khanh stressed that making birdcages undertakes many steps so that they are diverse with different shapes and sizes. “Canh Hoach Village's product designs and patterns are better and better, winning customers’ trust,” he said.

Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of the People’s Committee of Dan Hoa Commune, Thanh That District, Hanoi. Photo: Van Duong

In an interview with the Hanoitimes, Chairman of the People’s Committee of Dan Hoa Commune Nguyen Van Duong said that this profession helps improve local people’s living standards and develop the craft village exploration tour.

“In Dan Hoa Commune, the income from making handicraft products accounts for about 70% of the total revenue in the area, while the income from agriculture only makes up less than 10%. Canh Hoach villagers earn the highest in Dan Hoa Commune thanks to producing birdcages," said the chairman.

He added that Thanh Oai District's authorities are planning a project to develop craft village tours, which includes Canh Hoach Craft Village. Over the recent years, some travel agencies have taken tourists to the traditional craft village.

"I believe that Thanh Oai will be the potential land for developing craft village exploration tours. It is expected that Canh Hoach's birdcage trademark will enjoy growing popularity among domestic and international customers and the village will become one of North Vietnam’s great tourist attractions,” Duong stressed. 

Source: Hanoitimes

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