Crafty destinations

Hang Bac silversmiths

Hang Bac, one of Hanoi’s 36 iconic old streets, used to be a busy trade center known for its silversmithing in the former capital city of Thang Long.
Hang Bac, which was formed in the 18th century, was a central street in Hanoi’s old quarter. The silversmithing craft on Hang Bac was founded by Luu Xuan Tin, a native of Chau Khe village in Hai Duong. Tin was a mandarin during King Le Thanh Tong’s dynasty (16th century) who was permitted by the king to open a silver foundry in Thang Long (now Hanoi) to cast silver bullion for the royal court.

Hang Bac originally had three trades: silver bullion casting, silversmithing and currency exchange and only silversmithing remains today. The other two were phased out because silver ingots and copper and zinc coins were no longer used as currency.

Jewelry fashioning stages. Photos: Thanh Giang, Phong Thu 

A ring polished with machine. Photo: Thanh Giang

Hang Bac attracts foreign visitors with sophisticated silver jewelry. Photo: Phong Thu

Located in Hoan Kiem district in the center of Hanoi’s old quarter, Hang Bac still has the old architecture and the lifestyle of a silver craft village. Along two sides of the street are traditional red tile-roofed houses intermingled with tube houses. The street also boasts old temples and shrines, including Kim Ngan temple. An ancient architectural structure of the later Le dynasty (1428-1527), Kim Ngan temple is dedicated to Hien Vien, who is believed to be the founder of all crafts.

Only half a kilometer long, Hang Bac is home to hundreds of jewelry stores and silversmithing workshops, many of which still use the traditional handmade techniques for fashioning silverware and jewelry. Bon’s workshop at No. 27 is one of them. Located in a small lane just wide enough for a person to walk through, the 15m2 workshop is where six or seven craftsmen work in an enclosed area to fashion, file, finalize, and polish silver items. They also take orders from customers and deliver the finished products to them.

Today, the jewelry trade can be found in other places in Hanoi, but Hang Bac remains the home of the most talented gold and silversmiths. Combining the old handmade techniques with modern machines, Hang Bac silversmiths can produce sophisticated silver items, especially jewelry, which can satisfy the choosiest customers. This is owing to the craftsmen’s passion and desire to preserve their traditional craft.

Silver items on sale on Hang Bac street. Photo: Thanh Giang 
By Thanh Giang - Phong Thu

Bài và ảnh: Thanh Giang - Phong Thu

Crafting Clay Piggy Banks in Lai Thieu

Crafting Clay Piggy Banks in Lai Thieu

The profession of creating cute and colorful clay piggy banks, closely associated with the childhood memories of many people, has been preserved and developed for nearly half a century in Lai Thieu (Binh Duong).