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Northern craft villagers add wooden, clay buffalo to ornament market ahead of Tet

Friday, January 29, 2021, 10:00 GMT+7
Northern craft villagers add wooden, clay buffalo to ornament market ahead of Tet
A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

Two northern craft villages in Hanoi and northern Bac Ninh Province have diversified products in the ornament market for the upcoming Lunar New Year, or Tet, celebrations with wooden and clay buffalos.

For generations, artisans in Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi have sculpted ornaments from wood.

For the past few months, Dinh Quan villagers have been busy creating wooden buffalos for the 2021 Lunar New Year, which ushers in the Year of the Buffalo.

Dinh Quan wooden buffalos are mainly made from Padouk, a popular hardwood imported from South Africa, which is heavy, strong and very durable.

The ornamental buffalos in a variety of designs are priced from VND600,000 (US$26) to VND800,000 ($34.8) each.

A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

According to Tran Thi Thuong, a local artisan with 20 years of experience in carving wood, Dinh Quan ornamental products were mainly for exports to China in previous years.

However, this year, over half of customers come from Ho Chi Minh City and the central Vietnamese region due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Thuong said.

A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

In Dong Khe Village in Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh District of Bac Ninh Province, which is over 50km from Dinh Quan, artisan Phung Dinh Giap, 69, passionately completes the last clay buffalos before the products will be delivered to a spring festival in Hanoi, which is scheduled to take place on January 31.

Four months ago, Giap started digging soil lying two to three meters deep in a pond in the locality.

After that, he dried the soil, crushed it into mortar to make a light gray type of clay.

Clay buffalos are pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
Clay buffalos are pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

The clay was then mixed with a kind of craft paper, which had been soaked for a week.

He pounded both materials well until the mixture was no longer sticky. That’s when the clay was ready for the craft making.

Artisan Phung Dinh Giap holds a clay ornament at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
Artisan Phung Dinh Giap holds a clay ornament at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

The artisan shapes the buffalos in different postures and then dries the designs in the sun for five to seven days.

The final step is to polish and trim the buffalos.

A clay buffalo is pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A clay buffalo is pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

The clay buffalos represent both the hope for a year full of prosperity and luck and rustic village features and traditions, according to Giap.

Dong Khe clay buffalos will be available at prices ranging from VND20,000 ($0.87) to over VND700,000 ($30.4), he said.

A clay ornament is pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A clay ornament is pictured at Dong Khe Village, Song Khe Commune, Thuan Thanh Ditsrict, Bac Ninh Province, Vietnam. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
Tran Thi Thuong carves a wooden buffalo at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
Tran Thi Thuong carves a wooden buffalo at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a lying posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
An artisan carves a wooden buffalo at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
An artisan carves a wooden buffalo at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a standing posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre
A wooden buffalo in a standing posture is pictured at Dinh Quan Village, Tien Phong Commune of Thuong Tin District, Hanoi. Photo: Ha Quan / Tuoi Tre

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