Copper village preserves old tradition in HCM City
Copper products made at a workshop in HCM City’s Go Vap district (Photo: VNA)
from the An Hoi Coppersmith Village in Ho Chi Minh City’s Go Vap district are
busy with orders for the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, with customers crowding
shops buying their famous brass incense burners.
During Tet, Vietnamese often buy a standard
set of worship objects, which include an incense burner placed in the middle
and two candlestands on the sides of ancestors’ altars to bring luck and
At the bottom of the table, bronze vases,
glasses, urns, tortoises and jars of wine are placed, along with statues of
Tran Van Thang, 70, owner of the Hai Thang workshop,
said he began learning coppersmithing when he was a child and passed the
secrets of the work to the younger generation.
Before 1975, the village had more than 50
workshops and households and hundreds of workers, producing a variety of copper
But now there are only five workshops
keeping the craft alive.
With over 50 years of experience, Thang said
all stages of the production process, from preparing the wax mould to polishing
the final product, require great patience.
“The success of the product depends on the
craftsmen’s skills,” he said.
In recent years, traditional products have
faced competition from products made by machine, so most of the artisans have
improved designs to meet market demand, Thang said.
“My family stayed with the craft during
difficult times because we love it,” he said.
Tran Thi Thu Xuong, 47, Thang’s daughter,
said the products for traditional ancestor worship took a lot of time to make.
“This year our sales have been slower than
in past years,” she said. “However, we’re able to make a good living and offer
jobs with a stable income for 10 people,” she said.
Tran Minh Quoc, 34, son of the owner of the
Nam Toan workshop, said the workshop has about 20 craftsmen, mostly family
members and relatives.
"I’m aware of the need to preserve our
ancestors’ traditional values, so I decided to learn the craft,” he said.
Each month, his workshop provides about
200-300 products to the local market.
Nguyen Thai Vuong, 36, a walk-in customer
from Binh Thanh district, said he was looking for two candlestands for his set
of worship objects.
“I visited workshops in An Hoi village and
recognised that the traditional products here were made more skilfully, and
were more beautiful than in other places,” he said.
Over the last 100 years, the craft has been
passed down by families in the area, but villagers say they need support
policies to help them survive in modern times.
That may come sooner than expected. The
city’s Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism conducted a survey of
traditional craft villages, and included An Hoi as one of the sites on the
With such assistance, traditional craft
villages in the city are expected to not only survive but prosper for many more
years. - VNA