Kien Lao bells from Xuan Truong district, the northern province of Nam Dinh, have long been used in pagodas and churches across Vietnam and even exported to other countries.

Casting bells is a traditional craft here, but is now in real risk of being forgotten.

The making of Kien Lao bells dates back to some 200 years ago. It requires scrupulous technique, patience and great enthusiasm from bell makers.

Depending on the size, it takes from one month to a whole year to make a bell.

Besides being the right shape, a commissioned bell must produce a resounding and pure sound. This depends on the mixture of copper and tin and the way in which the makers use moulds and casting techniques.

Due to the strict requirements of the craft, there remain only 10 families making bells here. This fact has caused concern for the elderly.

“Almost all young people do not follow this line of work since it is hard and they have gone far away for study,” said a villager in Xuan Tien commune, Xuan Truong district, adding that some families do not have successors in making bells.

A further complication is that most of workshops are located in residential areas, thus limiting their work space and polluting the environment. Meanwhile, many makers do not have enough money to expand their production.

“We plan to provide better conditions for local families to develop this craft, especially by supporting them with capital. We will also zone an area in an industrial park for bell casting workshops,” said Bui Quang Dong, Vice Chairman of Xuan Tien People’s Committee.

While directions for the craft’s development are being discussed, local makers are still trying their best to maintain their traditional bell making.-VNA