Most of craft streets in the Old Quarter are changing and so is Lo Ren street. There’s only one blacksmith left in the ancient street.
Nguyen Phuong Hung, the last blacksmith
Under the scorching sun of Hanoi summer which is sometimes up to 40 Celsius degree, a blacksmith whose feet are coal-black, face is dusted, clothes are dirty is sitting beside a blazing forge hammering.
Every 8:30 am despite the weather, the forge of Nguyen Phuong Hung on Lo Ren street is always blazed. He is the only blacksmith left in the whole craft Lo Ren street to make hammers, knives, scissors, sickles, and so on.
He said there were already 3 generations in his family purchasing this craft. He himself tried to change another job in vain, then blacksmithing still sticks to him.
Earlier, the born-in-1961 man made some lime juice with salt. He claimed that our bodies were dried very fast and easily got tired in summertime, so some lime juice would help boost our health as well as working efficiency.
His store humbly lies on an ancient street, with total area of 2.2 square meters where all the stuff is arranged neatly.
A client of his store told us: “I work on building everywhere, but stay loyal to Hung’s products for 10 years. The products are handmade which takes a while but worth waiting”.
Love of tradition
The forge and several oil barrels keep boiling under the oppressively hot of summer. According to Hung, this job is very hard which makes us very hot in summers, but our hands cracked in winters. “But I find it my pleasure, so I’m very satisfied”, he smiled.
The craft is an art where whoever loves it would make it perfect to every detail. His products are something like that.
Under 40 degree of the summer, Mr Hung keeps forging continuously. Many of his relatives advised him to let out the store to someone which would bring back more money than the current job. However, he just ignored and said his job was his family tradition which was further meaningful to him than money.
For 30 years working as a blacksmith, his hands aren’t cracked at all. His trick is to hold the hammer tight, and know how to listen to his hands.
“Each product require a scrupulous process. The two most important things are temperature and the way to use a hammer. The temperature must be not too high or too low which thins down the products. Holding hammer also must be at right angle so that the products can reach to perfection”, he said.
At noon, Mr Hung makes use of the forge to cook. He told, ” he can’t be a main blacksmith, because there’s no sub-blacksmith; he works all alone”.
1 pm is when the work continues. Before working as a blacksmith, he was an engineer, so he can use all the machines easily.
“Replacing oil regularly will help products made more shiny”, Mr Hung shared, “he is not young anymore but still healthy, maybe the love for the job gives me fortune”.
Following the flow of life, he keeps loving his own job. Although his two sons are grown and successful, nobody wants to be a blacksmith.