Tra Dong bronze casting village

Tra Dong village in Thanh Hoa province is known as the cradle of Dong Son culture from 1000 BC until the first century AD. The village has a long history of traditional bronze casting craft.

tra dong bronze casting village hinh 0
Bronze casting requires skill and sophistication to create perfect products (Photo: VNA/VNS)

Many sophisticated bronze products have been made by the skillful hands of generations of local artisans. Through many ups and downs, Tra Dong village still manages to preserve its traditional craft.

“The bronze casting craft has existed for very long time in my home village. It is a prestigious craft”.

“You need to be patient to be able to create a bronze casting product. If you are in a hurry, you can’t be successful”.

“The more I do this craft, the more passionate I become. It is not only a craft handed down by my predecessors but it has historical and cultural significance”.

Local legend has it that two men of the Vu family introduced bronze casting to Tra Dong village in the 17th century. Other elders argue that the founder of the bronze casting craft is Buddhist monk Khong Minh Khong (1065-1141), who is worshipped in the village’s communal house.

According to historical books, nearly 900 years ago, in Yen Khanh (now Ninh Binh Province), there was a boy who followed Zen Master Giac Khong to become a monk at a very young age.

With profound knowledge, he traveled to many regions to teach others. When visiting Tra Dong, he taught the villagers how to make moulds for casting bronze.

The craft has existed in the village for centuries. During the reign of King Tu Duc (1848-1883), the villagers built a temple to worship him in and his contribution.

Tra Dong bronze casting village is well-known for many creations such as bronze drums, fine arts, special products for ceremonies and worshipping like incense burners, candle holders as well as decorative objects shaped like holy animals.

In the late 1980s, the bronze casting declined as its handmade bronze products failed to compete with cheaper products made from aluminum and stainless steel. Many local artisans turned to other jobs to earn their living.

In recent years, the restoration of many traditional craft villages as well as local artisans’ desire to revive traditional handicrafts has gradually resumed Tra Dong bronze casting. Notably, local artisans still successfully keep the characteristics of the local bronze products.

At present, Tra Dong village has 25 bronze-casting establishments. In 2018, the craft generated 44 percent of local people’s income and created hundreds of jobs.

Four local artisans, including Le Van Bay, Nguyen Ba Chau, Le Van Duong, and Dang Ich Hoan were recognized as Emeritus Artisans by State President for their contributions in reviving the traditional craft. 

 

Bronze casting requires skill and sophistication. It consists of a number of processes, each of which directly affect the product quality. Emeritus artisan

Le Van Duong said it takes time and a number of processes to create a bronze product. He noted, “First, you have to make the kiln and moulds, design patterns, set fire, melt the bronze, pour into the mould and then cool down the products. It’s time-consuming”.

The bronze casting techniques are generally handed down through family generations. In the skillful hands of the artisan, many products like bronze statues, worshipping items and art work are produced. Local artisans of Tra Dong can remake traditional Dong Son drums with traditional patterns.

Bronze casting does not follow a fixed procedure and combines traditional methods. The bronze products made in the village are made by hand.

According to young artisan Le Van Dao, the moulding process is very important because it determines the success of the product. The mould needs to be fired before the casting process. Adjusting the temperatures is the most difficult and requires skill and experience so that the mould will not crack or scratch.

Dao said, “The casting has to go through many stages, like choosing clay for the kiln. The clay must be dried under the sun, then soaked in the water and mixed with husks for several days. It is then ready to make the mould”.

Emeritus artisan Le Van Duong said at present, bronze casting is supported by machines but making moulds, melting bronze, and cooling still need skills and experience. Bronze casting still follows the traditional techniques handed down from predecessors.

Mr. Duong noted, “Apart from skills and techniques, a person must be really dedicated and patient in order to preserve the bronze casting craft”.

Tra Dong bronze casting village set a record when it made Vietnam’s biggest bronze drum. In 2000, artisan Le Van Bay successfully made a version of Ngoc Lu bronze drum. He then cast Vietnam’s biggest drum with a diameter of 1.51 meters and the height of 1.21 meters in 2007 which was officially recognized in the Vietnam Guinness Book of Records.

tra dong bronze casting village hinh 1
Artisan Nguyen Ba Chau with statues of the legendary Au Co Mother which were given as gifts to heads of states during the APEC Summit in Da Nang in November 2017. (Photo: baodansinh.vn)

In 2012, artisan Nguyen Ba Chau managed to cast a double-headed bronze drum which was considered a breakthrough in drum making technique.

“This is the first double-headed bronze drum ever made in Vietnam. I want to prove that we can do anything with bronze material,” said Chau.

With traditional techniques passed down from previous generations, Tra Dong bronze casting craft continues to thrive. VOV5

 
 

Other News

.
Banh Gai - a speciality of Mia village, Thanh Hoa province
Banh Gai - a speciality of Mia village, Thanh Hoa province
YOUR VIETNAMicon  07/06/2020 

Thanh Hoa province in north-central Vietnam is famous for many tourist attractions. Mia village in Tho Xuan districtis famous for banh gai or thorn leaf cake.

Younger generation show off patriotism
Younger generation show off patriotism
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/05/2020 

During the war, young people showed their undying love for the Fatherland, and were ready to sacrifice their lives for national independence. Nowadays, young people have found another way to show their love in small ways.

The O Du ethnic group
The O Du ethnic group
YOUR VIETNAMicon  25/05/2020 

Of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups, several consist of a few hundred people living in remote mountain areas. The O Du in Nghe An province is one of the groups with the smallest populations.

Incense-making craft of the Nung An
Incense-making craft of the Nung An
YOUR VIETNAMicon  09/05/2020 

For many generations the Nung An ethnic minority of Phja Thap hamlet have been making incense sticks from natural materials.

President Ho Chi Minh during French resistance war
President Ho Chi Minh during French resistance war
YOUR VIETNAMicon  09/05/2020 

Historical evidence proved that the Vietnamese revolution under the leadership of the VN Communist Party and President Ho Chi Minh is a decisive factor in the victory of the national resistance war against the French invaders during 1946-1954.

Dien Bien Phu - resplendent victory of Vietnam
Dien Bien Phu - resplendent victory of Vietnam
YOUR VIETNAMicon  08/05/2020 

66 years ago, Vietnam became famous throughout the world for the Dien Bien Phu Victory which “resounded throughout the five continents and was world-shaking”. 

President Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap, leaders of Dien Bien Phu Campaign
President Ho Chi Minh, General Vo Nguyen Giap, leaders of Dien Bien Phu Campaign
YOUR VIETNAMicon  07/05/2020 

President Ho Chi Minh and General Vo Nguyen Giap are the two leaders who led the Dien Bien Phu Campaign to a victory on May 7, 1954.

Looking back on glorious Battle of Dien Bien Phu
Looking back on glorious Battle of Dien Bien Phu
YOUR VIETNAMicon  07/05/2020 

In 1953, eight years after reinvading Indochina, despite having mobilised huge economic and military resources, the French colonialists failed to achieve their purpose of destroying the revolutionary government

Dien Bien: Changes in Muong Thanh valley
Dien Bien: Changes in Muong Thanh valley
PHOTOSicon  07/05/2020 

66 years after the glorious Dien Bien Phu Victory (May 7, 1954 - May 7, 2020), the Muong Thanh valley, onced a fierce battlefield with the sacrifices of many heroic people, is gradually reviving and changing day by day. 

Drum dance of the Giay
Drum dance of the Giay
YOUR VIETNAMicon  04/05/2020 

Of the ethnic groups who live in Ha Giang province, the Giay are clustered mainly in Tat Nga hamlet, Meo Vac district. Recent socio-economic development has made their life easier but has not changed their traditional culture.

Ho Chi Minh Campaign – Strategic battle
Ho Chi Minh Campaign – Strategic battle
YOUR VIETNAMicon  12/04/2020 

The general offensive in the spring of 1975, with the historic Ho Chi Minh Campaign as its pinnacle, ended successfully, leading to the ultimate victory of the resistance war against the US aggressors and the country's reunification.

Soong hao rhythms bridge Tay ethnic couples closer
Soong hao rhythms bridge Tay ethnic couples closer
YOUR VIETNAMicon  03/04/2020 

When talking about love duets, many people think of Quan Ho, a sweet folk music originating in Bac Ninh province. 

Birth registration makes Dao newborns unique
Birth registration makes Dao newborns unique
YOUR VIETNAMicon  30/03/2020 

The “Dao Tien” in Son La province believe that a newborn baby is not an official member of the family or recognized by his or her ancestors until the child experiences a birth registration ceremony.

Ta Oi ethnic minority preserve traditional Zeng weaving
Ta Oi ethnic minority preserve traditional Zeng weaving
YOUR VIETNAMicon  29/03/2020 

The traditional craft of Zeng (brocade) weaving has long been the pride of the Ta Oi ethnic group in A Luoi district, Thua Thien–Hue province.

Vietnamese food: Rice paper salad
Vietnamese food: Rice paper salad
YOUR VIETNAMicon  27/03/2020 

Your trip to HCM City won't be complete without rice paper salad. 

Troi and chay cakes for Cold Food Festival
Troi and chay cakes for Cold Food Festival
YOUR VIETNAMicon  24/03/2020 

Many Vietnamese people are preparing ingredients to make bánh trôi (floating cake) and bánh chay (small balls made from green bean paste wrapped in a shell made of glutinous rice flour) for Hàn Thực (Cold Food) festival.

Vietnamese food: Pomelo dessert
Vietnamese food: Pomelo dessert
YOUR VIETNAMicon  21/03/2020 

This pomelo dessert won’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth, in fact, people love the sweet treat of fruit, tapioca and beans. Try it out!

Buffalo worship of Lu ethnic group
Buffalo worship of Lu ethnic group
YOUR VIETNAMicon  19/03/2020 

“Mo khoăn khoai” is a ceremony of the Lu ethnic group in the northern mountainous province of Lai Chau to honor buffalos, a very important animal to famers.

Wedding and new rice ceremonies of Kho Mu people
Wedding and new rice ceremonies of Kho Mu people
YOUR VIETNAMicon  17/03/2020 

The Kho Mu ethnic people in the northern and central parts of Vietnam have unique cultural traditions and customs. These are reflected in their wedding ceremony and farming practices.

Wooden sculptures play key roles in life and death
Wooden sculptures play key roles in life and death
YOUR VIETNAMicon  16/03/2020 

The province's Bahnar and Jrai ethnic groups' Pơ Thi or Bỏ Mả ceremony is held one to three years after someone dies to ask for the dead's permission to let the living move the corpse to a new tomb.

 
 
 
Leave your comment on an article

OR QUICK LOGIN