Vietnam Traditional Job – Dinh Cong’s Silversmith

The silversmith business in Dinh Cong village was started in the 7th century in the Pre-Ly dynasty by three ancestors, Tran Dien, Tran Dien and Tran Hoa. Until now, this career has fallen into oblivion. In the hardest period of this career, some local people still try their best to preserve their tradition. Artisan Quach Van hieu is one of a few local people, who are nostalgic about this career.

Dinh Cong village is located by To Lich river, Thanh Tri district, Hanoi. According to historical books, Dinh Cong traditional village (or Dinh Cong silver and gold jewelry village) was famous for sculpturing silver and gold jewelries. In King Ly Nam De’s reign, three brothers of the Tran family: Tran Dien, Tran Hoa and Tran Dien lived in this village. Three brothers learned the career of making silver and gold jewelries by chance. Since then, they passed this career to local people of the village and created the reputation of Dinh Cong’s silver and gold products.

Dinh Cong’s products are remarkably different from other silver-making villages

Dinh Cong’s products are remarkably different from other silver-making villages

Dinh Cong’s products are remarkably different from those of Dong Xam (Thai Binh) or Chau Khe (Hai Duong) silver-making villages. They are definitely hand-made with high skills of silversmiths. The artisans must understand four basic techniques, including smoothing, combining, sculpturing and pulling. Smoothing is to polish products and create standard shapes. Combining is to join details of products harmoniously and ensure they are well-proportioned. Sculpturing is to draw and carve fine patterns for the silver or gold products. Pulling is to drag hot melted silver as threads, which are as small as strands of hair to make patterns or shapes of animals or flowers for sticking on the products.

Silver-making ask the silversmith a high ability of aesthetics and patience

Silver-making ask the silversmith a high ability of aesthetics and patience

The pulling technique requires careful and skillful hands to create smooth and beautiful products with harmonious details. Each product is a refined artistic work in terms of techniques and quintessence in terms of aesthetic and usage values. Only silver 999 can be pulled into threads with different sizes. In the past, silver products were often small ones such as flowers, butterflies, bracelets, necklaces and rings.

In early 19th century, 50 – 60% of Dinh Cong village made silver and gold products. When the subsidized economy was turned to a market one, there were only few households running this career. Because local people could not earn much money from this career, they gave up and looked for another jobs. Until now, artisan Quach Van Hieu and few families in the village are those, who are saving this career although it cannot bring them much.

Mr. Quach Van Hieu – a craftsmen at Dinh Cong village

Mr. Quach Van Hieu – a craftsmen at Dinh Cong village

Born and raised in a family with five generations working on the career of making silver products in Dinh Cong, Quach Van Hieu has inherited this work from his ancestors since he was a little boy. Starting this career at the age of 10, until the age of 16-17, he became the foreman of his family. Although this career underwent many upheavals, he never thinks of giving up his family’s tradition. Until now, he has trained many young men, who will preserve the career of silversmith.

The making of silver products symbolizes the sophistication of the traditional handcrafts without any alternation of machines. Mr. Quach Van Hieu shared: “Apart from skillful hands, the silversmith must have a high ability of aesthetics and patience to create a perfect product”.

One step of the making process

One step of the making process

Firstly, the artisan must heat silver, mould it into bars and pull into small threads. Then, combine two or three silver threads, laminate them and make small patterns of flowers, butterflies or small, wild flowers. This technique also allows the silversmith to create very small silver balls and combine them as products. To make a good product, the silversmith may take at least two years to be skilled.

Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village

Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village

 

Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village

Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village   Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village

Some delicate products from Dinh Cong village

Only after visiting booths showcase the complicated techniques of making silver products at Bao Son Paradise, looking at young silversmith passionately learning the traditional career with beads of perspiration on their foreheads, holding and enjoying silver products of Dinh Cong village, could I see the creation and perfection in the silversmith’s hands. We can understand the patience, intelligence and creation of silversmiths in Dinh Cong and Vietnam through beautiful patterns decorated on the products…

Text and photos: Thanh Cong & Internet - VNTravelline

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