|Mr. Quang’s cake mold shop has been operated in a small corner on Hang Quat street, Hanoi for a long time.
Located in a small corner on Hang Quat street, Hanoi, Quang’s cake mold shop looks much smaller than other shops on the busy street. In the 20 square-meter shop, there are various kinds of molds. Quang makes not only mooncake molds but also wooden molds to make cakes of steamed sticky rice and wood carving pictures for temples and pagodas. Quang said his family has been involved in the carpentry craft for many generations in Thuong Cung village, Thuong Tin district, Hanoi. In the early 20th century, Quang’s family moved to the Old Quarter and ever since has lived on the mold making craft. Mr. Quang said: “In the past, mooncakes were a luxury cuisine in Vietnam. Only people in big cities like Hanoi, Hai Phong and Nam Dinh were able to purchase moon cakes for worship during Mid-autumn festival. Our trade mainly served wealthy people. That’s why we moved to big cities like the capital city of Hanoi which was the land of the King and mandarins to do our craft”.
|Quang’s mooncake molds are favored every Mid-autumn festival.
Quang said his trade enjoyed the most flourishing time in the 1990s when the subsidy period ended. He recalled: “In the 1990s when the subsidy period ended, the mooncake market boomed not only in Hanoi but also in other provinces and cities. Thus, the demand for mooncake molds was very high at that time”.
Quang’s wooden molds look sophisticated and elaborate with delicate details. Quang says craftsman must be calm, precise and give their whole mind to the job. Mooncake molds are handmade so their patterns are unique and intricate.
Besides the traditional cake molds with the shape of carp, dragon, or rose, Quang even makes molds in the shape of characters from modern movies and cartoons that kids love such as Doraemon or Zhu Bajie.
Quang said: “You must be very creative and continue learning. Your products must be unique but still recognized”.
In modern times, more types of mooncake molds are available in the market making Quang’s business more difficult. But Quang is still sticking to it. He said: “Now, plastic molds become popular because they are cheap. Meanwhile, the price of wood is very high, which makes my business more difficult. I have to accept the fact that plastic mold-making technology has quickly developed. It is highly competitive. You must be creative and unique to survive”.
|Quang says each mold has different shape and meaning.
Some people told Quang to abandon his occupation but he refuses. He believes that his craft will remain relevant as long as he is enthusiastic, and has a great passion for the craft. “Why do I have to abandon my job? As long as there is demand, I’ll still do it”, Quang said.
For more than 70 years, and after many ups and downs, craftsman Quang still pursue his craft as a way to preserve part of the traditional culture of the capital city.