Tuong Binh Hiep village in the southern province of Binh Duong has become well-known for its lacquer items, markedly different from craft products made by other localities in the country.

In the first half of the 18th century, traditional lacquer craftsmen from the northern and central regions migrated to the provincial capital of Thu Dau Mot in search of work.

Initially, they made lacquer items to prevent themselves from missing their homeland and to provide for their new locality, which is home to many places of worship.

Then, lacquer paintings made in the area became popular among local people and a lacquer village was formed and has developed into what it is today.

Born in the central region, Tran Van Khiem, 80, has engaged in the lacquer production for nearly 70 years and seen many ups and downs in the village.

“The lacquer craft thrived the most during 1978-1979. At that time, we lived a well off life doing this job,” said Khiem. “I like this work so I pursued it. My children now also do this job.”

According to Khiem, Tuong Binh Hiep lacquer items are distinguished by their gloss paint, which is durable and becomes shinier over time. The village’s products are also diverse in design.

Currently, Tuong Binh Hiep village craftsmen are following two directions of development: using special paints to produce traditional products and industrial paints to make modern ones.

Le Ba Linh, owner of the Tu Bon Lacquer Product Workshop, said Tuong Binh Hiep’s product range includes souvenirs, consumer products and decorations.

“These products are made in old or new style according to orders. It is important for us to earn a living and keep the quality of products at the same time,” Linh said.

Materials used for making different products are varied. Wood is used for producing furniture, plywood for paintings and boxes, ceramic for vases and statues, and cloth or paper for dishes and flower vases.

Other materials to make lacquer products also include egg shells and lamé.

To create a traditional lacquer work, between 20 and 25 stages are required, with painting taking from 3-6 months to ensure quality requirements.

Khiem said in order to produce a lacquer product, it is necessary to choose a wooden plank which is not warped and damaged by termites. That plank needs to undergo a process to ensure that it will not become elastic in the future. This stage of work is important.

Because each stage of work requires meticulous attention to every little detail, so craftsmen must be hard-working, dedicated and highly aesthetic.

Over the past years, products in Tuong Binh Hiep have faced fierce competition from other localities. However, skillful and careful local craftsmen have helped preserve the traditional occupation and made it thrive in the southern region.-VNA