Bao Ha is a village with a history of over 500 years. This is considered to be the cradle of statue-making craft in Vietnam. With its own unique features, Bao Ha wood carving sculpture village has become an interesting place in Hai Phong’s Rural exploration tour program.
Address: Dong Minh commune, Vinh Bao district, Hai Phong city
History of formation and development of Bao Ha village
Located 30 km from the northern port city of Haiphong, Bao Ha village in Vinh Bao district is well-known for its carved wooden statues.
The legend of the profession master
In the 15th century, when the Ming Dynasty (China) colonized Vietnam (1407-1427), the young men were sent to China to work in factories, build tombs, temples … including Nguyen Cong Hue, Bao Ha villager. During more than 10 years of serving in a foreign country, Nguyen Cong Hue has learned a number of jobs to earn a living, including the craft of carving statues and lacquerware. After being repatriated, Nguyen Cong Hue passed the job on to the villagers. When he passed away, Bao Ha villagers set up shrines, carved statues and worshiped him as a profession master.
During the feudal period, the sculptures of Bao Ha were always maintained and developed, popularized throughout the East. The village had many good artisans who were respected by the court. They also made the throne for the king.
Also derived from the profession of sculpting and sculpting puppets, shallow puppet dance was also born and developed to this day.
Bao Ha wood carving sculpture village from 1945 to present
After 1945, Bao Ha still maintains and develops its profession. Currently, Bao Ha has nearly 1,000 households engaged in the profession, of which over 200 are sculptures with 20 factories. Products of trade villages are increasingly diverse and richer, besides traditional products (Buddha statues, holy statues, puppets …). In addition, there are many new products suitable for the era such as worshiping products (altars, couplets …), statues of all kinds, contemporary statues, lacquer paintings … Every year, the village Occupation contributes 40% of local industrial production value. The products are not only for the domestic market but also exported to many Eastern European countries. In addition, the village has become a “countryside” tour in suburban Hai Phong
In 2007, the village was recognized as “The Traditional Village of Wood Sculpture and Lacquer” by Hai Phong City.
Bao Ha Village has not only traditional statues, but also portraits which look the same as the characters. They express the talent, skill and creativity of the artisans. Bao Ha is famous for this traditional craft, but its fame grew recently when it was introduced as a tourist destination. The development of the statue carving craft has brought wealth to the local people. Therefore, many who previously left the village to earn a living elsewhere are now returning home. The villagers are now joining forces to promote their village as an attractive tourist destination.
Process of creating products
The main material of handicraft village products is wood and paint. The commonly used wood is jackfruit wood, menghundor wood, Sycamore … In order to create quality products, the selected wood must be solid, less warped, less cracked, soft, smooth, easy to carve, easy to polish…The paint is mainly live paint (resin of the gardenia), from live paints into paints used in the processes.
To create a product, artisans have to use dozens of tools such as: Tools to make designs of products; tools to create products, including dozens of different types of chisels; tools for smoothing works and paint tools (painted steel, paint brushes)
The process of sculpture and finishing products
To create a product, it must go through the following steps: sample research, material selection, shaping, stamping, simple and detailed chisel, peeling, scraping, polishing paper armor, polishing, fitting armor and attaching details, paint many times, paste gold and silver decoration…
Characteristics of the statue in Bao Ha
The products which bring with them traditional cultural value are made from talented hands, the creativity of generations of craftsmen. The uniqueness of the statues comes from the solid, balanced shape. The meticulous lines of the craftsman created statues with souls. Therefore, the image of Bao Ha village has become a favored product of domestic and foreign customers.
Activities in Bao Ha wood carving sculpture village
The main activity is to visit the factory and learn how the craftsmen make a statue. Visitors will feel extremely surprised about the wood carving process and the skill of the people who make the statues. They are not only craftsmen but also artists.
The village has opened many workshops to sell statues, fine art products and lacquer paintings to serve the tourist market. Therefore, visitors can also buy the products available as souvenirs. Or can order to get the product according to demand.
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Besides, the village also stages puppet shows using wooden puppets handcrafted in the village. The shows are in the village’s large courtyard where visitors sit, drink tea and eat roasted sweet potatoes.
Admire the unique statues
Statue of Đức Linh Lang Đại Vương.
Đức Linh Lang Đại Vương – Prince Hoang Chan was also a famous general of the Ly Dynasty. This statue is carved by Nguyen Cong Hue. The statue is worshiped at Bao Ha temple (also known as Ba Xa temple), in a sitting position on the throne, the hand can stand up and sit down. This is a unique statue, over 500 years old. The statue is 1.6 m high, exactly the size of Hoang Chan, is a combination of sculpture and puppet art. This statue is a rare one among the existing statues in Vietnam.
Statue of the profession master
The ancestor statue is a combination of the Buddha image, the holy statue and the portrait by artisan To Phu Luat. There are documents that this is a self-portraiture of Nguyen Cong Hue at an advanced age. The statue is nearly a meter high, sitting on the pedestal, the stately appearance has the appearance of “A fairy descending to the earth”, but simple, kind, almost like an old Vietnamese farmer. Bright eyes with “extraordinary intelligence”, the posture of a worker who is resting but very leisurely.
24-hands Buddha Statue
24-hands Buddha statue of artist Dao Van Dam won a gold medal at Leipzig International Fair, Democratic Republic of Germany.
To go to Bao Ha wood carving sculpture village, you may go yourself or book Hai Phong City tour for more convenient.