Sơn Đồng craft village hectic as 'Tết' approaches

January, 08/2023 - 08:20
The village, which is located in the suburban district of Hoài Đức about 20km from the city centre, is famous for its meticulous products made of wood, mainly worshipping objects, including statues of Buddha and deities.

For residents of Sơn Đồng craft village in Hà Nội suburb, the most hectic time of the year is November and December, one or two months before 'Tết' (Lunar New Year) holiday.

The village, which is located in the suburban district of Hoài Đức about 20km from the city centre, is famous for its meticulous products made of wood, mainly worshipping objects, including statues of Buddha and deities.

Sơn Đồng has even been recognised by the Việt Nam Book of Records as the largest village creating Buddhist statues and worshipping objects in Việt Nam.

As Lunar New Year approaches, the village receives a huge number of orders, making the local craftsmen busy day and night to complete all the bookings.

As Tết approaches, Sơn Đồng craftsmen are busy day and night to complete all the customer orders. — Photo kinhtedothi.vn

Arriving at the village during this time, visitors can hear the sounds of work everywhere as thousands of local villagers join the crafting process.

More than 80 per cent of 400 households in the village earn a living by the ancient craft of wood carving. It’s estimated that 4,000 skilled workers, including 1,000 craftsmen, work in the craft.

The 'golden' fingers of Sơn Đồng artisans have crafted meticulous yet lively statues and worshipping objects such as Amitabha Buddha, Gautama Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Bodhisattva, as well as lacquered horizontal boards and vertical panels, thrones and altars.

More than half of the domestic market in worshipping statues and objects are made in Sơn Đồng.

A craftswoman paints on a vertical panel in Sơn Đồng Village. — Photo kinhtedothi.vn

Sơn Đồng products are very famous as almost every pagoda, temple and household altar nationwide possess gold-inlaid lacquer statues and worshipping objects made in the village.

The craft of wood carving in Sơn Đồng dates back over 1,000 years. During such a long history, the craft sometimes faded into oblivion. However, thanks to efforts of many generations of artisans, the craft has been revived to gradually thrive again.

Nowadays, most craftsmen are young, who were taught by their parents to become skilled artisans.

Not only inheriting the experience left by their parents, the young craftsmen are very creative and quickly respond to any requirements of customers. They are not only skilful in crafting but also very proactive in publicizing their products to domestic and international markets.

Traditional craft

All the Sơn Đồng products are made of jackfruit wood because this kind of material is soft, flexible, durable, unlikely to crack, easy to carve, and moisture resistant.

After finishing sculpting, craftsmen will proceed to another important step – painting the object, which is similar to the lacquer-coating technique. Therefore, after every coat of paint, the object will be buffed with stone and water. This step will be implemented again and again until the wooden object’s surface looks even and smooth. The final step is to inlay the products with a silver or golden sheet, depending on the customers’ demand.

A woman puts a final paint coat on a religious statue in Sơn Đồng Village. — Photo kinhtedothi.vn

According to Nguyễn Đức Sảng, vice chairman of the Sơn Đồng Craft Village Association, each time-consuming step of production is made sophisticatedly.

“There are works that must be left for a few months to dry naturally before putting the final touches. That’s why each product costs tens of millions of đồng, and even there are statues that are worth billions of đồng,” he said.

The Chairman of the Sơn Đồng Commune People's Committee, Nguyễn Viết Hùng, said that the authorities always focused on management with an aim to improve the efficiency of the village’s traditional craft.

“Thanks to the successful development of the traditional craft, many households in the village have a prosperous life,” he said.

The official also said that the commune had proposed a project on traditional craft development, aiming to create stable jobs and increase income for all local people. VNS