Nhan Hien Sculpture Village

Nhan Hien Sculpture Village

Apart from treasuring the techniques of stone sculpture from their forefathers hundreds of years ago, locals in Nhan Hien Village have also been receptive to new trends and updated new applied art designs which have helped the village develop into one of the most well-known stone sculpting areas in northern Vietnam.
The elders in Nhan Hien Village, Hien Giang Commune, Thuong Tin District, Hanoi said that under the Ly Dynasty, talented and experienced sculptors in the village were invited to build the imperial citadel of Thang Long (present-day Hanoi). Following in their forefathers’ footsteps, Nhan Hien sculptors are very creative in not only making traditional products but also new ones with updated art designs which are popular in the domestic market and in foreign markets such as the US, Australia, Japan, and India. 
Visitors to Nhan Hien Village can easily see diligent workers busily working in workshops to create sculptures of different shapes and sizes. In the past, sculptors in the village mostly made wood sculptures, but now stone sculptures, such as sacred animals, worship items, pictures, reliefs, and Buddha statues, are also their major products.
There are many stone sculpture workshops in the village and Cuong Viet is an example. Here, the workers make a variety of stone products such as stone dragons, towers, patterned reliefs or sacred animals used in temples or pagodas.
Thanks to the skilful hands of sculptors in Nhan Hien Village,
rough stones become pieces of art. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP.
Sculptors in Nhan Hien Village create a soulful statue of Maitraya. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
The sculptors’ creativeness and skilfulness helps create unique stone sculptures.
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
Over the years, the locals have made tremendous effort to adjust themselves to the fastidious local market and look for new export markets. One of the pioneers in exporting products to foreign countries, such as South Korea, Japan, Denmark, Sweden and the US is artisan Nguyen Minh Phu. His company’s products are sacred animals, human statues, Buddha statues, vases, lamps and jewelry boxes, which are diverse in types and sizes.
Visiting Minh Phu Company, one can see a Kannon Bodhisattva statue made by sculptor Phu in the middle of the yard. The statue, 5m in height and 18 tonnes in weight, was sculpted from a huge block of white stone. The artisan also sculpted a 1.8m wide, 0.6m high and 3.5 tonnes statue of the cloistered emperor Tran Nhan Tong (1279-1293) shown entering nirvana which has been placed in Yen Tu.
Some stone sculptures made by Nhan Hien Village’s sculptors:
“Lotus” by artisan Nguyen Minh Phu won the special prize at
“Vietnam Craft Products Competition 2010 – 1000th Anniversary of Thang Long Trophy”.
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A piece of work reproduces an excerpt from  the “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”.
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
“Pho co” (Old Street) made by Nhan Hien sculptors. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A delicately sculpted stone vase. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
“Ong Tho” (Longevity) made from stone in the set of “Tam da” (Three Abundances).
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP 
A delicate statue of “Bo Tat Dat Ma” (Bodhidharma) made by Nhan Hien sculptors.
Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
Sculpting roses from stone. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A stone vase with unique shape made by Nhan Hien sculptors.Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A stone lamp with delicate patterns. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP 
A sculpted stone container made by Nhan Hien sculptors. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A stone box with delicate patterns. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
A stone jewellery box is sculpted with delicate patterns. Photo: Trinh Van Bo/VNP
Nguyen Minh Phu’s works received two prizes from the Vietnam’s craft and fine art sector. They include the triple stone vases named “Bach Diep” (hundreds of leaves) – the first prize in Golden V – 2004 (National Craft Designing Competition), and the sculpture of “Lotus” – the special prize at “Vietnam Craft Products Competition 2010 – 1000th Anniversary of Thang Long Trophy”.
Thanks to the great effort and creativeness of artisans like Phu, the village’s time-honoured craft has strongly developed, contributing to preserving Hanoi’s cultural values.
Story: Vinh Hung –  Photos: Trinh Van Bo

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