29/01/2019 00:01 GMT+7 print

Hanoi village keeps an old craft alive

Every year when the Mid-Autumn Festival is approaching, people in Thuong Cung village, Thuong Tin, Hanoi, are busy making moon cake molds.

We visited the family of Tran Van Ban, one of the last moon cake mold makers in Thuong Cung, who has over 35 years in the trade.

Ban said that in the past, many families in Thuong Cung made cake molds. But due to its seasonal nature, this trade was abandoned and now only some families pursue this work.

“To make a wooden moon cake mold requires many stages as well as the maker’s skill”, Ban said. The first stage is selecting wood which must be durable and pliable. According to Ban, decandrous persimmon and mahogany are the best wood for making the molds.

The selected wood is then cut according to the size of the mold ordered by customers.

A beautifully patterned mold showing the talent of Thuong Cung artisans. 

Tran Van Ban's workshop is the oldest and largest one in Thuong Cung village. 

A set of tools for making molds. 

Some details of the mold are made with machines.

While the rest is done manually. 

A skilled worker can make 5 or 6 molds a day. 

Making moon cake molds requires special precision. 

A carp-shaped mold made in Thuong Cung village.

Diverse designs of the molds. 

The traditional moon-cake molds are sought much after by customers. 


Next is carving the patterns - the most difficult stage requiring deftness and care. This is the stage which decides what a moon cake will look like. After carving, the artisan uses clay as a substitute to see what the cake will look like and make repairs to any details of the mold that are unsatisfactory.
The last stage is polishing the mold using sandpaper.

Ban’s family members each can make between three and five molds, depending on the sophistication of the mold’s patterns. For a big, classy one, it may take a day to finish.

The price of a mold ranges from 150,000 to 300,000 dong, depending on its size, and may reach millions of dong for a sophisticated pattern.

Story: Khanh Long - Photos: Viet Cuong
(All photos in this article are taken by an OPPO Find X mobile)