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Tiger figurines: new mascot for the Year of the Tiger

Thousands of figurines depicting a tiger holding a gemstone in its mouth are being produced every day and selling out almost immediately by artisans in Tan Uyen Town, Binh Duong Province.

At 11 am, a truck containing 2.5 tons of clay figurines leaves Ms. Nguyen Hong Hop’s furnace. Its workers are pouring wet clay and adhesives into molds to prepare for the next batch.

Ms. Hop says her furnace produces 800 Tiger figurines on average. These are the newest products for the 2022 Lunar New Year. The new year shopping season lasts for about three months, so she plans to make over 7000 units. Each batch sells out almost immediately.

“To keep up with demand, I had to ask my workers to work overtime to boost production.” Because workers are paid based on their performance, a hard-working employee can easily make 500-700,000 VND, even 1 million per day. However, the job is not suitable for everyone as it requires skill and experience.

The process of making a tiger figurine includes mixing the clay and glue; pouring the mixture into plaster molds for two hours; letting it dry under sunlight for one day; and baking for 10-12 hours at 800 degrees C.

Each furnace puts out 5,000 products per batch. They are sold to merchants and retailers at 15,000 VND/unit. After these products are painted and polished, they are sold to customers for 30,000 VND each.

Twenty years ago, 15 families gathered to form a crafting community in Tan Uyen Town. They make figurines for each year’s mascots (like this year’s tiger) as well as thousands of other figurines every day.

Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần

Tiger figurines in their rough state.

Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần
A worker makes final adjustments before the baking process.


Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần

The figurines are very popular.

Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần

Figurines are taken out of a furnace.


Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần

Artisans also make piggy figurines.

Hổ ngậm ngọc: Linh vật luyện lò lửa nghìn độ chào Tết Nhâm Dần

An artisan can make up to a million VND a day ($45).

Tran Chung

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