Bronze casting village of Ngu Xa
Location: In Ba Dinh District, Hanoi.
village of Ngu Xa appears as a small peninsula near the Truc Bach Lake.
It's where many sophisticated bronze products were produced for the
needs of the ancient capital of Thang Long.
An old saying in Hanoi goes "Glossy silk of Yen Thai, pottery of Bat Trang, goldsmith of Dinh Cong, bronze-caster of Ngu Xa". |
Xa means five villages. According to history, during the Le Dynasty
(1428 - 1527), people of the 5 villages Dong Mai, Chau My, Long Thuong,
Dien Tien and Dao Vien (from Hung Yen and Bac Ninh provinces), who were
skillful at bronze casting, had migrated to the capital to establish a
casting workshop for business. They settled here and set up a new
village in the capital and named it Ngu Xa to remember their five
original villages. Afterwards they reorganized into a separate
professional guild called Ngu Xa bronze-casting guild. Nowadays Ngu Xa
Street is still there to the east of the Truc Bach Lake, in Ba Dinh
Despite living in the capital, the bronze casters of
Ngu Xa always maintained their rural practices, building a pagoda for
their Buddhist worship and a communal house dedicated to the originator
of bronze casting, Bonze Khong Lo.
Ngu Xa really represents the
talent of Vietnamese bronze casters. Their products over the last 500
years have become outstanding masterpieces of national art.
the most famous products of Ngu Xa bronze casters are bronze bells and
statues. Bronze bells are very popular, and can be found in every
Vietnamese pagoda. They are special musical instruments, which give an
echoing sound when ringing as the thickness of each part of the bell
differs. Every step of the casting procedure, from shaping the mould to
preparing the mixture and melting and pouring it into the mould must
follow a special strict process, requiring a peculiar know how. Bronze
statues are the other famous product of Ngu Xa. One typical example is
the Buddha statue cast in 1952 and placed in Thien Quang Pagoda right in
The statue is in a cross-legged sitting position;
the design is simple but harmonious. It is 3.95m high, the distance
between the two knees is 3.60m, its perimeter is 11.6m and the whole
statue weighs 10 tons and sits on a throne of 96 lotus petals. The lotus
throne is also made of bronze weighing 1.6 tons.
This is a
grandiose piece of bronze art work, typical and sophisticated in all
aspects, acting as symbol of the techniques and art of bronze casting in
Vietnam. The Buddha's face is benevolent and calm, his stature, sitting
with folded robes expresses an inner deep calmness. Yet he seems also
very close to a human being. This illustrates the Vietnamese concept of
life, as well as the tradition of Buddhist carving.
works of the ancestors from this village include not only the Buddha
Statue, but also many other famous works, considered to be Vietnamese
master-pieces, such as the Tran Vo Statue in Quan Thanh Temple and
various bronze relics such as incense-burners, lamps and cranes, all
considered to be valuable antiques.