Bests of Hanoi you don’t know (Part 3: Craft village)

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Hanoi craft villages

There’s a quote of Hanoian – “Bat Trang pottery, Định Công silver, Ngũ Xá bronze” which is meant to the best craft villages in the one-thousand-year-old city.

Thang Long – Hanoi not only impresses visitors with Hanoi 36 ancient streets, antique pagodas, but also a collection of traditional craft villages. These craft villages are not all about the money but they support traditional values and spirit life of the people. Although industrialization & modernization has partially faded some value of the villages, they remain the quintessence of a traditional craft village.

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Đại Yên – The oldest craft village for medicinal herbs

Through the history of 1000 years, Đai Yên craft village is the only village to provide medicinal herbs for the whole city. At previous time, every household had their own gardens of medicinal herbs and they were and are proud of it, the tradition handicraft of their ancestors. Wherever there’s a medicinal herb seller, the one must be a member of the village.

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Medicinal herbs

It was said that this craft was for female because its requirement wasn’t about strength, and it’s true. Most of people purchasing this craft in the village are female. On all of Hanoi streets always walks a Đại Yên craftswoman carrying shoulder load of herbs & some seasoning for daily cook.

The “one and only” of the craft village is the way to cure. The physician feels the pulse and writes out a prescription following symptoms told by patients. Nowadays, industrialization has changed its look. Buildings grow, the number of craftsmen decreases. There are only some households left who still keep the tradition to cure villagers.

Định Công – the best jewelry craft village

“Làng anh có nghề kim hoàn

Để anh đánh nhẫn cho nàng đeo tay”

 (My hometown makes jewelry

Let me ring your lovely finger)

Up to now, Định Công craft village is famous for jewelry craft. According to legends, there were 3 brothers (Trần Hòa Trần Điện, Trần Điền) who had skillful hands with hardworking & painstaking character. They had mastered the way to make jewelry and taught the Đình Công villagers. Since then, generations after generations, making jewelry has become a tradition of the village. This craft requires a high level of patience & scrupulousness to stretch & attach thin silver threads into decent patterns by hands.

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Handicraft products of Định Công village

Before the 20th century, Đình Công is a nationwide craft village for jewelry. However, since 1964, due to historical vicissitudes, the traditional craft have gotten blurred. Currently, Hang Bac still remains the particular products of this skillful craft which was made by Đình Công craftsmen.

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Ngũ Xã – best craft village for bronze casting

Ngũ Xã bronze casting village lies to the west of Hanoi, right next to Truc Bach lake with nearly 500 years of history. According to history records, from Lê dynasty (1428-1527), villagers from 5 villages including Đông Mai, Châu Mỹ, Long Thượng, Điện Tiền, and Đào Viên, which belongs to Hung Yen & Bac Ninh provinces nowadays, were inherently developing bronze casting. They brought this craft to the capital city and created a new place called Ngũ Xã which means 5 villages to memorize their old villages.

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Bronze casting requires a scrupulous process

Ngũ Xã bronze casting is recognized as one of the four most quintessential craft of Thang Long – Hanoi. It was skillful hands, shrewd eyes, and scrupulousness that brought them to success. The craft has been passing from generations to generations.

Ngũ Xã is nationwide for casting various sizes of Buddhism statues which appear almost every pagoda in the whole country. Nowadays, it is sad to know that there’s no more forges, no more the sound of hammers’ hitting bronze layers in Ngũ Xã village. There’s only some small households keeping up with the craft but for mini-sized handicraft products.

Bát Tràng – the oldest pottery craft village

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Pottery products in Bat Trang

The village is 15 km away from the center of Hanoi. It is claimed that the villagers have remained the craft for 6 centuries. During more than 600 years of history, many craftsmen from the village have made a huge number of valuable pottery products some of which has been properly used nowadays.

Up to now, Bat Trang villagers live by pottery craft. Clay is the main component of high quality Bat Trang products. To obtain this essential clay, Bat Trang villagers have to buy from some particular areas of Vinh Phuc & Bac Ninh provinces. From artful handicraft products to daily used ones (bowls, dishes, cups, etc.), Bat Trang craftsmen also make luxurious decoration bricks. The village now attracts both national and international visitors not only for their products but for being a tourist spot.

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