Saturday, May 5, 2007

Hanoi ancient city - symbol of country’s crafts

Hanoi, the ancient capital of Vietnam, is famous not only for charming landscape but also as home to various traditional craft villages, which represent unique cultural identities of the country through each historical period.
Used to be called Thang Long or Dong Do, the city had all those necessities of life – rucksacks, shoes, buttons, even headstones. In Hanoi ancient city, you can probably find a street dedicated to selling one of them. These streets haven’t simply sprang up by chance, they are part of the city’s colourful history of trade, not to mention the country’s rich artist diversity. Thousands of years ago, skilled craftsmen from localities across the country, together with their friends and relatives, migrated to Hanoi seeking a better life. With them came a variety of knowledge and expertise of products their home villages specialised in. In time, as these journeymen lived together, guilds were formed to protect the quality of their work and cooperation in production and sales. Blacksmiths from Hoe Thi and Da Sy traditional craft villages in Tu Liem and Ha Dong moved to Tan Khai hamlet of Hanoi to open forges, and so the area became Lo Ren (Forge) Street. Hang Dong (Copper Street) was famous for copper products made by craftsmen from the Cau Nom Village in northern Hung Yen Province and nearly Hang Thiec is known as Tin Street. The craftsmen produce tin-based products such as oil lamps and teapots. Due to changing times, the goods produced in this street had to evolve. Nowadays, commodities like tin dressers and cisterns have become more popular. At the end of the 19th century, many artisans from Nanh Village in Gia Lam District migrated to Hanoi to open shops specializing in leather products like addles, shoes and sandals, shaping Ha Trung Street. But it is different from Hang Giay (Shoes Street) which specialises entirely in footwear of various shapes and sizes. Silver and gold jewelry can be easily found in Hang Bac which of course means Silver Street. It is a venue for artisans from Dinh Cong Village in Thanh Tri District of Hanoi and Dong Xam Village in northern Thai Binh Province. At the end of the 15th century, hordes of craftsmen from Chau Khe Village in northern Hai Duong Province moved to the city to open money coinage workshops. Nowadays, tourists can change their currency at copious foreign exchange counters dotting in the street. And if you are hungry, take a walk down Hang Bun (Noodle street) or try one of the many delicious dishes freshly prepared at street stalls across the city. These streets have changed as time passed by, but the tradition of business known in Vietnam as buon co ban, ban co phuong (doing business together) is one of the few constants in the Old Quarter of Hanoi.
( Source :VNA)

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