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Delving into an age-old statue-making village in town

Hoang The Phong
Wednesday,  Aug 9,2017,23:57 (GMT+7)
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Delving into an age-old statue-making village in town

Hoang The Phong

The statue-making village is located at a small alley at 1017 Hong Bang Street in HCMC’s District 6 where tourists can find hundreds of Buddha statues in different sizes and shapes

It has been widely accepted that traditional craft villages are being pushed into oblivion due to the advancement of technology wherein machines outperform people, and many artisans have to quit their job to look for other ways to earn a living.

However, there are still havens for skilled craftsmen with strong devotion. Taking a stroll around Hong Bang Street in HCMC’s District 6, tourists will have a chance to explore a 100-year-old statue-making village which has maintained its traditions and created a unique cultural trait amidst the heart of the modern city.

Nestled in the small alley at 1017 Hong Bang Street in close proximity to Giac Hai Pagoda at the foot of Ong Buong Bridge in District 6, the village is home to more than 10 households dedicated to producing colorful and diverse statues that are mainly distributed to pagodas and temples nationwide and even exported to some foreign markets.

What may impress tourists upon arrival in the craft village for the first time is that they can find hundreds of Buddha statues in different sizes and shapes with amazing designs and colors along the alley, and catch the images of not only veteran artisans but also younger ones engaged in carving and shaping statues.

According to a veteran artisan in the village, the career of making statues has witnessed many ups and downs. However, it has still existed and developed until now thanks to those people with great passion and devotion to preserve the craft village.

Producing a finished statue requires craftsmen to take several steps like casting, carving, smoothing and painting, each of which requires craftsmen high concentration and great patience.

Mai Van Tinh, a 54-year-old artisan who is running a statue making facility with around ten workers, explains to the Daily he inherited the business from his father at a young age and became the third generation of his family to take over the job.

“My purpose of creating these artworks is not to earn money but to preserve my traditional family business which has been passed down from generation to generation,” Tinh says. 

Huynh Van Nhan, a native of the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre moving to Saigon to earn a living since he was 16, says at first he thought that he needed to do this job for a few years to earn a decent amount of money before shifting to a better job. But he has now been with this occupation for more than 16 years.

“My greatest dream is to have a better health to continue this job with a hope to raise my two sons and help them gain access to better education,” Nhan says.

Despites the ups and downs of the history and the substantial changes of the socio-economic landscape in the city for decades, the statue-making village in District 6 has still preserved its traditions inherited from predecessors and unique cultural values as well as created more jobs for those from different parts of the country to settle down in the land of Saigon.

A woman is seen painting an artwork
Huynh Van Nhan, a 32-year-old artisan, says he can earn VND5 million to VND7 million a month from the job of making statues
Two veteran artisans pay attention to finishing a Buddha statue - PHOTOS: HOANG PHONG


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