Travellers to the Marble Mountains, near central Da Nang city, usually pay a call at the Non Nuoc stone carving village, where marble statues are produced. Over the past 400 years, Non Nuoc has become known at home and abroad for its fascinating products.
At the foot of the sacred Ngu Hanh Son mountain range (literally Five Mountains named after the five elements Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth), the village has long been frequented by travellers looking to purchase statues and to see artisans at work.
Polished statues, lively toy animals, and petite and sophisticated figures with both traditional and modern motives are produced on the spot. They are then stripped around the world to collectors.
Lifeless stone yields spirit in the hands of the craftsmen of Non Nuoc. The process takes several working stages, some of which are extremely difficult. Satisfaction with the completed works, the admiration of potential buyers and various other benefits from the job have united the people of the village in their careers.
Nguyen Buu Long is one of the village's stone carvers continuing the long line of traditional craftsmanship that has supported him and other locals for centuries. His sense of aesthetics have quickly earned him a name among contemporary sculptors. Many of his works have received awards at domestic and international contests, and are on display in parks and recreational areas in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States. Gallery owners from Singapore, Taiwan and several other places have purchased his sculptures. Most recently, Long received an award from the Vietnam Sweden Cultural Fund for his artwork at the National Sculpture Exhibition. He also received the Certificate of Merit from the Prime Minister following his reception of the Silver Medal conferred by the Thai Princess.
Mr. Long wants to build a park of stone carvings at the foot of a mountain. He said, "I was born and grew up near Marble Mountain and I was very proud of my ancestorís traditional craft. I have learned how to combine the art and the technique of sculpture. I want to build a complex of stone carvings of Vietnamese historical figures. This park wil showcase the talents and skills of the artisans of Ngu Hanh Son".
Visitors to Longís family garden admire its beauty. To prepare for the building of the Stone Statue Park, Long has completed major statues featuring Vietnamese national heroes such as the late President Ho Chi Minh, General Tran Hung Dao, Hoang Hoa Tham, Prime Minister Pham Van Dong and composer Van Cao and hero Nguyen Van Troi. Most of the statues are 2-3m tall. Long has invested tens of millions of dong for the construction of the park. In addition, he is also concentrating on the training of young artisans who are producing outstanding works of art.
Nguyen Trung Trang, a young artisan, said, "My statue of Bodhisatva is quite big, therefore, I have to carve the statue with my hands without machines. The work requires considerable skill to capture details and essence in the statue. For example, we cannot use the machine to carve the face of Bodhisatva as it is detailed work. It took us nearly three months to complete it".
Non Nuoc village now has nearly 300 stone carving households, employing about 1,300 workers, each with a monthly salary ranging from VND500,000 to VND1.5 million. They work very hard and are determined to carry on this traditional craft of stone carving, which brought fame to their village.
Reprinted from VOV News