Cho Thu carpentry village in An Giang

Thursday, 2018-04-05 09:48:36
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Young labours at Cho Thu carpentry village
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NDO – Referring to Cho Moi island district, An Giang province, people often imagine a fertile alluvial land with green fields, with ordinary farmers as in other agricultural areas. Few people think that in this land, is the Mekong Delta region’s best-known carpentry village - Cho Thu carpentry village.

Distinguished craft village

The elderly in Cho Thu said that, in the 19th century, waves of migrants from the Northern provinces settled in the southwestern provinces, and initially concentrated in Go Cong, after which they dispersed to other provinces. There are groups living in the market - Long Dien A commune now, keeping the carpentry skill alive with their delicate carvings. According to the oral tradition of many generations of carpenters, the number of families coming to the market to live in groups, carpentry groups handed down to their descendants and those who live in the locality need for vocational training. The carpentry village was primarily built and housed a number of household items, such as the church closet, dresser, water table, dome ... (these items are engraved) with the spirit of tolerance. Gradually, the products bring the bold mark of the Cho Thu craftsman. Many artisans of the village were famous throughout the Southern region, invited to many places to create architectural works and places of worship. There may be typical artisans such as Ho Xuan Lai (Tu Chia), Huynh Van Tieu (Niu Xíu), Huynh Van Vinh (Tam Vinh).

In order to create sophisticated products, wood carving in Cho Thu requires a lot of specialized tools. In particular, the types of chisel used play an extremely important role. Typically, a chisel set has about 40 units. Making a carving product, the worker must perform many steps with the participation of both carpenters and carvers. The first step is the selection of the wood. The types of wood used for carving are usually precious wood. The wood is collected in My Luong, which borders Cho Thu, to classify and select.

Craftsmen with their talent, imagination and skillful hands, along with a combination of four types of chisel "blow their soul into each fiber of wood" through lines, creating new images on the wooden background. Finally, they implement steps such as shaving, polishing, and painting, embellishing for the patterns.

Along with the time fluctuations, Cho Thu craft village also had many rises and falls. After the prosperous period, the demand for wood products has been reduced. The team of carvers must go to many places to earn a living or switch to other jobs with a more stable income.

New lease of life

For the past 10 years, due to the increasing demand for wood furniture, the Cho Thu craft village has been revitalized and re-developed. In December, 2006, Cho Thu carpentry village was recognised as a traditional handicraft village by the An Giang provincial People's Committee. Local authorities have been actively interested in and provided solutions to support artisans. There are many programs, such as supporting 50% of the cost of machinery and equipment, supporting a 30% interest rate on capital to develop the job. Besides, the province has also invested in providing three-phase electric power to serve local furniture production.

Although there is now an automatic carving machine, and creating work is faster, the patterns are not sharp, and lack the tactile soul of hand carved pieces. Therefore, some artisans have decided to open their craft carving establishment. According to preliminary statistics, the Cho Thu craft village, only the area of Long Dien A commune has more than 300 establishments with the participation of more than 1,000 households; contributing to provide employment for more than 2,300 people, accounting for nearly 60% of the population. Besides, there are nearly 1,300 indirect employees, with an average income of VND 3 million to VND6 million per month.

According to Nguyen Van Minh, in Long Thuan 1 hamlet, Long Dien A commune, his establishment has been specializing in craft carving; His students must master the hand-carving skill, before learning to carve using a machine. He and many other craftsmen in the village hope that the habit will help to preserve the traditional craft trade.

Despite the many ups and downs, Cho Thu village still stands firmly, becoming a flourishing village in the South West region. The passion of the village always strives to build the "brand", their life is more comfortable.

LE QUANG TRANG