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Dec 29, 2020 / 14:19

A day in the life of a blacksmith

Nowadays, in a modern world, many traditional crafts have disappeared but still remained artisans who are trying to keep the tradition in every corner of Hanoi's Old Quarter, helping ensure that the past is not forgotten but preserved as evidence of a city with history of thousands of years.

Once known as the street specialized in supplying high quality metal forging utensils in Hanoi, Lo Ren street (Street of the Blacksmith) now has only one workshop that keeps furnace burning.

The best shopping places in Hanoi’s Old Quarter can be found along narrow alleyways close to Hoan Kiem lake, where you can find retailers that have managed to retain their particular trades for generations.

In the memories of Hanoians, the Old Quarter is not only the representation of Hanoi’s cultural values, but also the concentration of many old trades that were once part of the routine in the capital city.

Nowadays, in a modern world, many tradition crafts have disappeared but there remain artisans who are trying to keep the tradition going in every corner of the Old Quarter, which helps ensure that the past is not forgotten but preserved as evidence of a city with history of thousands of years.

Located on the corner of Hang Dong - Lo Ren street, Hoan Kiem district, a 60-year-old blacksmith is still hammering metal in front of a fiery furnace which lights a street corner.

This is Mr. Nguyen Van Hung, who is preserving the metal-smith tradition left by his father.

Blacksmithing is the craft of working with soot, grease and heavy hammers.

Mr. Hung said that this shop was passed on to his father by his grandfather and now it is his turn to take over.

''My grandfather moved from Nam Tu Liem district to settle down in Lo Ren street with his profession,'' said Mr. Hung.

He added that his family's shop was located down the street for only a few hundred meters but there were dozens of blacksmith shops. In its heyday, Lo Ren street was lit up and kept warm by the flame all year round and noisy with the harsh sound of the hammer.

In sunny or rainy weather, the fire is always burning. Currently, the item he usually makes is tools for concrete chisels.

The most important items of blacksmithing are anvils and hammers.

 Especially, Mr. Hung is the only blacksmith left in the street.

''I remain forging not only for earning a living, I want to "keep the fire" for the whole street of Lo Ren. I will be practicing the profession to the last breath. I am proud of that, although this profession is so hard. But most importantly, I myself can live on it with my own passion,'' Mr. Hung said.

Products made by Mr. Hung every day.

Over the years, Mr. Hung has not found a disciple who is dedicated to pass on his valuable experiences.

 ''There are also many people who want to learn the job, but they give up after only a few days. Now that I'm 60 years old, I can't be doing the job any longer. By the time I stop hammering, blacksmith would remain just... the name of a street '' said Mr. Hung.