VietNamNet Bridge – Visitors to Tuong Binh Hiep craft village in Thu Dau Mot City in the southern province of Binh Duong can see a buzz of activity as artisans produce lacquerware for Tet in mid-February.


A man arranges lacquerware at a shop in Binh Duong Province. VNS File Photo.

At the workshop of Tu Bon Co. Ltd., 25 artisans are completing products like flower pots, vases, jars, and boxes, which would soon be delivered to some retailers.

Le Ba Linh, director of lacquerware maker Tu Bon Co., said sales had been good this year, a good sign for the development of traditional craft villages in Binh Duong, which have improved their quality and brands.

Truong Quan Tinh, the head of Dinh Hoa Lacquerware Co., said there are two categories of lacquerware in the local market, traditional and modern.

He said Tuong Binh Hiep villagers have preserved their production process, which involves covering their products with 12 to 15 coats of traditional paints.

According “Binh Duong – A New Power of the 21st Century” published by the National Politics Publishers in 2003, immigrants from the north, including lacquerware artisans, travelled along the Sai Gon River and settled in Thu Dau Mot in the early 18th century.

They passed on their traditional lacquerware craft to locals, who have preserved it since.

In 1901 the French rulers in Vietnam set up a vocational school in Thu Dau Mot (now the Binh Duong Fine Arts and Culture School) to teach carving and lacquerware.

The Binh Duong traditional lacquerware craft was best promoted in the period 1945 – 1975 with the establishment of Tuong Binh Hiep Lacquerware by artisan Truong Van Thanh and the Thanh Le lacquerware workshop by artisan Nguyen Van Le.

The two brought together many outstanding artisans, which gave a boost to the lacquerware craft and enabled exports to many European markets.

In addition to lacquerware paintings, in recent years lacquer has also been painted on decorative items such as vases, dishes, and bracelets.

According to figures released by the Binh Duong Statistics Bureau, in 2001 Tuong Binh Hiep Village had 1,840 families with 3,860 lacquerware artisans.

The figures are now down to 90 families and 1,896 artisans.

Most young people in the village do not want to take up the traditional craft but instead seek jobs in industrial parks around the province.

To preserve and promote the craft, relevant authorities should have plans to train young artisans who love traditional lacquerware, Linh of Tu Bon Co. said.

Truong Quan Tinh, who has 40 years’ experience in making lacquerware, said a shortage of human resources is now one of the biggest difficulties facing the industry since young people no longer want to do the job.

To support lacquerware villages, provincial authorities have launched a tourism project in co-ordination with them, and seek to build brand names for them.


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