Statue carving in Vu Lang village

statue carving in vu lang village hinh 0
Vu Lang village gate

Vu Lang now has 450 households involved in sculpting statues, 500 qualified workers, and dozens of large-scale statue-carving workshops. Visitors to the village find rows of statues drying along the roads and hear the clamor of chisels and saws.

To make a beautiful and durable statue, the most important thing is to choose good wood, which should be soft, easy to carve, and resistant to weather and insects.

Dao Trong Diem, a Vu Lang woodworker, told VOV that “The statues are mainly made of oak and jackfruit wood because most people consider it holy wood, worthy of worshipping. There are formulas in terms of size for example, for carving statues.”

Vu Lang products are diversified. Typical products are Buddha statues. Each statue involves sawing, chiseling, dipping in red lacquer, trimming with gold and silver, and polishing. 

The time needed to complete a statue depends on its size. On average it takes 5 to 7 days. But a big statue two meters in height may need several years to complete.

Diem said the painting is the most difficult and time-consuming phase, adding that “After sculpting the overall statue, the artisan will carve every detail on it. It is then buffed so that it is smooth to the touch. This is the most important stage of the sculpting. 9 or 10 coats of paint are applied to the roughly finished items. 

Finally, the statues are dipped in red lacquer and trimmed with gold and silver. It takes much more time to make statues than other worshipping objects. Vu Lang workers have done the woodworking for famous pagodas, temples, and relic sites, including the One-Pillar Pagoda in Hanoi, Bai Dinh Pagoda in Ninh Binh province, and Keo Pagoda in Thai Binh province.”

Depending on the customers’ wishes, statues are trimmed with gold or silver or just painted.

Local artisan Nguyen Tuan Tam says the village makes other worshipping objects besides statues.

He said “Vu Lang is a famous statue carving village in the northern region. The statues here are special. We also make horizontal lacquered boards, parallel sentences, altars, and other worshipping objects, and do interior decoration for pagodas and temples. Our products are sold nationwide, and exported to other countries. I have made statues for pagodas in Ukraine and the Czech Republic.”

To expand production and reduce environmental pollution, Vu Lang has built a craft village industrial zone which connects businesses for greater efficiency. Local workshops are now applying modern technology and mechanisation to save labor and improve productivity.

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