Veteran artisan defies modern technology to preserve Van Phuc silk's identity

(VOVWORLD) - 82-year-old Do Quang Hung, who has dedicated more than 60 years of his lifetime to following and preserving the traditional craft of silk-making in Hanoi’s Van Phuc village, has stuck with the manual technique passed down from previous generations long after most local production households switched to machinery. His aim is to produce high-quality silk products and at the same time preserve a part of Vietnamese culture.
Veteran artisan defies modern technology to preserve Van Phuc silk's identity - ảnh 1Artisan Do Quang Hung. (Photo: Ngoc Mai/VOV5)

In an old house in Van Phuc village in Hanoi’s Ha Dong district, the sound of shuttles spinning and weaving silk can be heard every day.

Sitting beside a traditional loom for weaving silk, Do Quang Hung says he became acquainted with the silk weaving craft when he was just 13 years old, so Van Phuc silk runs in his blood.

Unlike most local craftsmen, Hung has persisted in making 100% handcrafted silk products, using the same techniques as previous generations.

With no advertising at all, Hung’s “Hung Loan” silk brand has built up a strong following in both domestic and foreign markets. Because his products are 100% handmade, the quantity is limited and the prices are significantly higher.

"My customers are loyal customers who are keen on fashion and unique, high-quality fabrics. All of our products are pure silk and hand-made. Customers keep coming back because our products are unique, smooth, and soft, and have sophisticated, elegant, and luxurious features," said Hung.

Veteran artisan defies modern technology to preserve Van Phuc silk's identity - ảnh 2Silk products made by artisan Hung. (Photo: Ngoc Mai/VOV5)

Situated on the bank of the Nhue River, about 10km southwest of Hanoi center, Van Phuc silk village is renowned for its premium-quality silk products. At 1,200 years old, Van Phuc is Vietnam’s most ancient silk village and produces Vietnam’s top-notch silk.

Artisan Hung wants to preserve the traditional techniques of previous generations even though modern machinery makes possible mass production and greater profits. Handmade silk products are more comfortable and softer because they are made from 100% pure silk and carefully woven by skilled craftsmen, said Hung.

"Authentic Van Phuc silk has special characteristics. It is odor-resistant, resists fading, and makes the wearer feel comfortable and cool. In the feudal period, Van Phuc silk was the main material used to make imperial robes and clothing for the royal family. I still use the manual procedure in order to produce the highest quality silk products and preserve the traditional culture of Vietnam," Hung said.

"It is important that you choose 100% pure silk in order to produce a quality item.  The first step in making silk is to raise silkworms, then you pull the silk threads from the cocoon of the silkworm. This will determine the quality of the fabric. Weaving the silk takes about 3 days. The last step is dyeing the silk and adding finishing touches."

Hung’s descendants have chosen more modern careers, but Hung has stuck with the family’s traditional craft in order to preserve Van Phuc’s silk weaving tradition.

"My grandchildren have chosen modern professions like IT and finance. But I’ve always encouraged them to pursue silk weaving. It’s never too late to begin, even when you’re 50 or 60 years old, as long as you’re enthusiastic, honest, respect your customers, and never give up!"

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