Emeritus artisan steadfast to traditional bronze casting craft

Chia sẻ

(VOVWORLD) - Tra Dong bronze casting village in Thieu Hoa district is located 12 km northwest of the central city of Thanh Hoa. The village is famous for casting bronze drums, a musical instrument that symbolizes power and religion. 60-year-old emeritus artisan Nguyen Ba Chau has done his best to revive the traditional bronze casting techniques of Vietnam’s ancient people.

Emeritus artisan steadfast to traditional bronze casting craft - ảnh 1Emeritus artisan Nguyen Ba Chau and his newly-cast bronze drums. (Photo: VOV2)

In the past, Tra Dong village worked primarily on casting bronze objects such as urns, bells, statues, worship objects, and decorative items.

The techniques of casting bronze drums had been lost for centuries. As a dedicated artisan with a great passion for bronze casting, Nguyen Ba Chau became interested in reviving them.

Since 1998, he has travelled to different regions of Vietnam and visited museums to record motifs, patterns, and designs from ancient drums.

“For 2 years I tried many times to reproduce the ancient bronze casting techniques but failed. I had to teach myself,” said Chau.

During those two years, Chau’s family struggled financially and he felt depressed. But strong encouragement from his family persuaded Chau to continue his efforts.

“At that time, we had to borrow money for Chau to continue learning the trade. I encouraged him to continue,” Chau’s wife, Nguyen Thi Nhan, said.

According to Chau, the ancient bronze casting techniques were so sophisticated that he had great difficulty mastering them. The clay or copper mold for tiny motifs and patterns must be made in just the right way to produce beautiful, sharp details. The patterns must be carved by hand after the casting is complete.

“I faced many difficulties. I did a lot of research and managed to revive the craft,” said Chau.

Emeritus artisan steadfast to traditional bronze casting craft - ảnh 2Emeritus artisan Nguyen Ba Chau pours copper into a drum mould. (Photo: VOV2) 

In 2000, artisan Nguyen Ba Chau became the first person in Vietnam to successfully cast small bronze drums using traditional methods.

“My father told me this craft is precious. The artisansskillful hands and creativity turn scrap materials and charcoal into treasures,” he said.

Chau has trained more than 300 students, including his son, many of whom have become skilled workers.

“Mastering this craft requires patience and effort because many of the techniques are quite difficult. Through his diligence and meticulousness my father has instilled a great passion in me to master the correct techniques. This is a demanding craft, so I need to do my best to preserve it,” said Nguyen Ba Quy, the son of Chau.