Last blacksmith in Hanoi’s Old Quarter
VietNamNet Bridge – Hanoi’s Old Quarter has long been famous for its architecture and traditional crafts, many of which have been lost to rapid urbanization.
Nguyen Phuong Hung is the last practitioner of his family’s traditional craft of iron forging.
Despite rapid industrialization and modernization, Nguyen Phuong Hung has continued his family’s craft of iron forging at 26 Lo Ren - Blacksmith Street.
He is the only person still practicing this craft, for which the street was once famous. Hung says other smithies on the street have been replaced by shops and he is now the only in Hanoi’s Old Quarter.
“Smithies began to disappear in 1995 giving way to modern commerce and industrial production. I’m the last generation of iron forgers and I will never give it up. I love what I’ve been doing and am proud of it,” he said.
Hung said that because his smithy is the only one in Hanoi, it has become a popular tourist attraction: “I’ve told many people that I don’t need a visa to travel abroad because my smithy has become known to many tourists, who probably told their friends and relatives that there is only one blacksmith in Hanoi.
It’s sad that younger generations, including my children, don’t appreciate my work. I will allow them to do what they like, as long as they are good to themselves, their family and society.”
For years the street has been changing significantly with many shops opening and closing but Hung’s smithy still has a fire going.
Hung noted, “It’s deplorable that today’s society has become so commercialized, making traditional crafts obsolete. If this trend continues, there will be no more traditional crafts. Then it will be too late to regret.”
Hanoi has experienced rapid urbanization, which has resulted in the loss of many of its traditional crafts. Craftsmen like Mr. Hung are only a few people, who hope to preserve the beauty and cultural values of Hanoi’s Old Quarter for future generations.