The craftsmen in Dao Xa trade village are calling for incentives to preserve and develop the production of handmade traditional musical instruments to ensure their craft’s continuity.

74-year-old Dao Van Soan, who is now considered one of the top craftsmen in the village, said it took a lot of patience, skill and energy for an artisan to complete an instrument such as a “ dan ty ba” (a pear-shaped guitar with four strings) or “dan thap luc” (Vietnamese 16-chord zither) .

To produce one, the appropriate wood must be selected, and most work is done by hand from shaping the body, attaching the neck to the body to fitting the strings and the final decoration. According to Soan, the most important and difficult work is to check the instrument’s pitch and the sound quality.

It takes at least one week to make a “dan ty ba”, he said.

Soan voiced concern over the possible loss of the 200-year-old traditional craft, saying that only ten households in the village still continue to produce the instruments. Most of the craftsmen are old and the young generation prefer to do other better-paid jobs, he added.

It takes great love and passion for the makers to pursue the craft, because the work itself hardly supports their lives, young maker Dao Van Khuong said.

Classes have been organised to teach local youngsters how to make traditional musical instruments. The village craftsmen have also focused on making the products that meet clients’ demand to ensure a stable income.

The Dao Xa village in Dong Lo commune, Ung Hoa district, Hanoi, also produces other traditional instruments, such as the “dan bau” (a single-stringed instrument), “dan nguyet” (full-moon-shaped guitar with two strings) and “dan nhi” (upright two-string fiddle).

The village, which was recognised as a traditional craft village in 2009, has its products sold in every locality across the country and attracted crowds of international and domestic tourists, but the aging artisans are worried the craft will die out one day in the near future.-VNA