Dinh Cong Jewelry VillageHanoi, Vietnam
Dinh Cong jewelry village is a traditional handicraft village on the bank of To Lich river, Thanh Tri district, about 10km from Hanoi city center. It is said that during the Ly Nam De period (571 – 603), in the To Lich River area, there were three orphan brothers of the Tran family called Tran […]
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Dinh Cong jewelry village is a traditional handicraft village on the bank of To Lich river, Thanh Tri district, about 10km from Hanoi city center.
It is said that during the Ly Nam De period (571 – 603), in the To Lich River area, there were three orphan brothers of the Tran family called Tran Hoa, Tran Dien and Tran Dien, who originated from Dinh Cong Village. After a period of exile in the war, they learned jewelry making and came back to their native village and opened a jewelry shop called “Kim Hoan”, taking the gold bracelet as their trade mark. The jewelry they made was very sophisticated. As their prestige became more well-known, the king got the three brothers to come to the royal court to make jewelry. The brothers taught people in their village the profession. Since then, Dinh Cong Village has been renowned for its jewelry, the skills being handed down from generation to generation.
In fact the three Tran brothers are not the originators of the jewelry handicraft, they simply contributed to the development of the techniques. About 5 or 6 centuries earlier, ancient China had already appreciated Giao Chi (the name of Vietnam at that time) as an area rich in gold and gemstones, and the exploitation of these precious resources was developed. A Chinese historian in about 187 – 226 A.D. wrote: Sy Nhiep sent to China many gifts, at first these were gold and silver items. In many tombs of the 2nd and 3rd centuries, sophisticated gold and jade jewelry such as bracelets, rings, hairpins, combs, earrings and necklaces have been found.
Under the feudal regimes, kings and mandarins gathered skillful jewelers not only from Dinh Cong village but also from other provinces to produce jewels for themselves or to decorate their palaces.
To make sophisticated products, jewelers must master 3 important techniques relating to the profession, including carving, making and polishing.
The carving technique involves carving a picture, design or motif on jewels, or on gold or silver pieces. The pieces included necklaces, bracelets and spittoons.
The making technique involves spinning tempered gold and silver into strings and then making flowers, birds and animals from these strings to stick on the jewels. This technique requires a careful and skillful hand, so it’s mainly reserved for women. The polishing technique making gold and silver articles by shading not by carving.
The skillful jewelers must master not only these 3 professional techniques but above all the ancient technique of smelting. To use pure gold (called also gold foil or gold leaf) for jewelry making, they have to follow the traditional techniques of “polishing gold”.
When the making is finished, the article is ready for polishing. Silver articles are brushed with sand and then with a solution of soot and lime and then put on a fire. The article is then immersed in a solution of boiled alum and finally polished with sand and pieces of glass. Gold articles are brushed with a solution of pounded brick and liquid salt, then put on a fire and cleaned. Then they are immersed in a solution of boiled, sour fungus and finally polished with sand and by pieces of glass.
Looking at the figures and motifs on the articles, one can see the patience, skill and creativeness of these Vietnamese jewelers.