Traditional handicraft villages and streets (01:22 15/01/2010)

HNP – Hanoi has 24 traditional handicraft villages which started from the industries of rice and farm produce cultivation. The traditional handicraft industry was former a secondary job for leisure time after harvest.

Photo: Nacre wood-engraver

Each village among those has at least several traditional handicraft industries (for instance, Chang Ke Nua village has up to 17 industries). No village has the only industry. However, not all of the villages can become famous.

The fame depends on stimulation of the market demand, including the market in the inner city, suburb region, the north, the whole country and the world.

As for the inner city market where is mainly home to urban residents, their living condition is difficult or in comport depends on their business ability. The living condition will decide ways of entertainment and dress.

In Nghia Do village, Lai family specialized in making royal paper to meet the demand of Dai Viet Monarchy. Ke Mo village, where had Senior Lieutenant-general Tran Khat Chan’s feud, had wine brewery with is know for special names like “Ke Mo wine, Mo Trach chess”, Mo soya curd and Mo sticky rice. In Buoi village in Yen Thai, girls made command and festival papers to serve administrative demand and examination demand of the feudal intellectual and official class as well as the demand to print or write prayer of monks. Girls in Buoi village still felt joyful although living in difficult condition because they could serve poem writing of the bonzes.

Specialized handicraft villages were also set up around Thang Long-Dong Kinh-Hanoi such as Buoi Paper, rattan in Ve Village, Dong My paint and confections and preserved in Xuan Dinh, Vong grean rice, Lu popcorn, fabric weaving and forging in Goi, Chang fan, Vac fan, Day tussor, Bat Trang ceramics (Between the 16th and 17th century, the city exported hundreds of thousands of bowls and dishes, Bat Trang ceramic vases to islands countries in Southeast Asia and Japan). Ngoc Ha flower village, which was home to Hoang Hoa market recorded historically early the 16th century and late the 19th century, was encouraged to grow more varieties of flower imported from France to serve demand of the French men and ladies. The villagers were sent to Da Lat to grow flowers and established their own village in the Central Highlands locality.

In brief, traditional handicraft industries and their people “people of class 3” of the Confucian monarchy (four classes: the scholar, the peasant, the worker and the trader) from different places came to Ke Cho region. During the process of socio-economic exchange with the inner city, the suburban village gradually developed in a historical period of ups and downs to form Cultural heritages of Thang Long-Hanoi.

-Fragrant cholorantus and flamboyant
Skillful Ke Cho craftsmen

-                                 Skillfulness of Ke Cho region (Hanoi).

* Silver casting, Hang Bac Street

Hang Dao exciting, Hang Duong, Hang Bac, Hang Ngang

Several architectural images of Thang Long imperial citadel were still seen on old streets in Hanoi. The streets are the symbol of Hanoi in the old days and the most impressive places for both people inside and outside Hanoi. The capital city was is very crowed and exciting with people from and to Dong Xuan, Bo Ho and Hue street.

By late the 19th century, the court bought back Noi Mieu temple at Hang Giay at the price of VND120. The temple, which formerly exposed to the south, turned to the east after the upgrade. Now, the temple gate had a plate hung on named “Trau Khe Vong Tu”. The temple, located in Hang Giay, belonged to people in Hang Bac.

From Gia Long Dynasty, there was an official in charge of managing and collecting silver and handing over it to silver casting. Each ingot of silver was enough 10 taels and sterling. Then the silver would be returned to the court for the treasury. There was a wood box containing silver and money in the communal house. Four people, each holding a key, were assigned to keep the box.

Silver casting can be divided into two phases. The first phase was called Truyen Bac.

Firstly, sifting a mixture of powdered lime, pounded half baked brick and ash (firewood ash or apple fruit peel ash is better thanks to their soft and light advantage) and then mixing them with water and knead it into a pan. The pan was used as a tool for casting silver. Other tools are bellows, some iron sticks, long-handle pincers and knives.

Pouring crushed silver or one still mixed with other metals into the pan; work the bellows and blow on the fire, using charcoal, not pit-coal. To save the costs, firewood should be only needed when silver starts melting.

When the silver begins melting, lead is put into the pan, depending on the volume of silver. If only a small volume of lead is put into, silver will not be firm enough. For crushed silver of seven karats, it is needed to use five grams for an ingot. When melting, lead will mix with other impurities to be 10 karats enough.

Silver casting needs to pay attention to the scum and stars. Scum is the grey layer as rice foam. Stars are the fire foams which run up and down. When the casting nearly finishes, stars and scum will become less gradually and they disappear, the casting ends.

Letting the silver get cold, selecting the good-quality part and the rest was called dregs. People in Ke Sat Tu Son often went to Hang Bac Street to buy the dregs to pound them for making lead, copper and many others.

After that good silver is cut into pieces of 10 taels each or an ingot.

The second stage is casting silver.

The pot was made from clay mixed with ash and rice husk and then was make dry or baked. The chopped silver pieces were put into the pot for casting which needed some borax. The borax or Bo3Na2 can make silver melting. It sticks to the pot edge and become callous.

When the silver melts, it will be founded.

Mould for casting ingot silver is called Thao which is made from iron and has a wooden-made handle. While casting silver, the mould must be very hot. Pounded charcoal was used to rub the mould and then taking a small volume of oil of castor oil plant to prevent silver stick to the mould.

After being founded, ingots of silver are still hot and red and they were mended immediately. A small hammer is used to make them to have a perfectly square shape. After being mended, a sign of enough 10 was put on each silver ingot.


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