Canh Hoach - The village of two top doctorate winners
During the feudal times, Viet Nam had a total of 55 top doctorate winners. Canh Hoach was one of two villages in Viet Nam which recorded two people rewarded Trang Nguyen title. The two top doctorate winners in Canh Hoach Village included Nguyen Duc Luong and Nguyen Thien. They were maternal uncle and nephew.
“Trang Nguyen” was the title given to the person who gained top doctoral position in the Confucian education system during Viet Nam’s feudal times. It was used in the Ly dynasty in the early 11th century, Tran dynasty between 1225 and 1400, the later Le dynasty between 1427 and 1789, and the Mac dynasty in the 16th century.
The worshiping house ò Nguyen clan (Photo:nguoithanhoai.vn)
Nguyen Ba Ky was the progenitor of the Nguyen clan in Canh Hoach village. He was rewarded a doctoral title in 1463 under the reign of King Le Thanh Tong. Later, his son was Nguyen Duc Luong who passed a royal examination and was recognized Trang Nguyen in 1514 under the reign of King Le Tuong Duc. He was appointed a post equivalent to deputy foreign minister. When he died, he was conferred the title of foreign minister. When Nguyen Thien was 6 years old, he was reared and taught by his uncle, first doctor Nguyen Duc Luong. Then Nguyen Thien was also recognized as Trang Nguyen in 1532 under the reign of King Mac Dang Doanh.
The clan’s worshiping house was built in the later Le dynasty. Then, in 1821, it was repaired by Nguyen Dynasty and maintained until now. In the worshiping house, there is a procession of palanquins in honor of Nguyen Duc Luong and Nguyen Thien who made great contributions to the nation and village. In addition to steles and ancient incense burners, 10 papers conferred by the King are still preserved here. The house has been recognized as a State-level cultural historical relic site. From 11th to the 13th day of the third lunar month every year, the village usually organizes its festival. On the occasion, the villagers burn incense at the clan’s worshiping house in memory of the two top doctors.
Canh Hoach – The village of birdcage making craft
Canh Hoach Village is famous for not only academic tradition but also traditional birdcage making craft nationwide.
Artisan Nguyen Van Ty is considered the tradition’s progenitor for hundreds of years. Later, he handed down the craft to his son Nguyen Van Nghi, also known as Ba Mi, whose talent was widely-recognized.
At present, Ba Mi’s son - Nguyen Van Nghe, the only villager, has been granted with the title "Skillful artisan". He is proud that his family made 10 birdcages as ordered by Mr. Vu Ky, Secretary of President Ho Chi Minh, to hang in the stilt house in the Presidential Palace.
Artisan Nguyen Van Nghe makes a birdcage. (Photo:HNO)
To ensure durability, beauty and luxuriousness for the village’s products, Canh Hoach craftsmen must undertake many steps, such as whittling the bamboo splints to make the cage’s bottom and making and decorating the brims and assembling the parts. They select bamboo and rattan used to make the cages from the forests in the northern mountainous provinces, such as Hoa Binh and Cao Bang. Then, the materials must be soaked, boiled and fumigated to resist termites and woodworm. Thousands of splints must be whittled and polished to be straight and have a uniform length.
According to artisan Nghe, the most difficult step is to carve the hem of the cage’s brims. Being expert at using a knife, the craftsman can carve very small decorative patterns such as a poem in Chinese script, dragons, unicorns, tortoises, phoenix’, plants, grass and leaves. Thus, birdcages made by Canh Hoach villagers are beautiful and durable.
The craft of making bird cages has existed for a long time and is passed down from generation to generation in Canh Hoach. The villagers are proud of delicate birdcages which won medals at the exhibitions in Ha Noi during the French domination time.
Canh Hoach birdcages are diverse with different shapes, and sizes. Bamboo splints are thoroughly woven. The base is made of jackfruit or fig wood which can resist termites and are soft enough for carvings. Currently, Canh Hoach Village records over 100 households making bird cage and this craft brings each household an income of 5-10 million VND per month. The village’s products are sold domestically and exported to Asian countries, such as Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Australia. The village has been properous thanks to the birdcage making craft.