Go Cong – popular altar cabinet making village

(VOVWORLD) -Worshipping ancestors plays a special role in the spiritual life of Vietnamese people. The worship space is a sacred area and the family altar demonstrates solemnity and respect to one's roots. Go Cong village in Tien Giang province is famous for making altar cabinets.
Go Cong – popular altar cabinet making village - ảnh 1A buyer is impressed by Go Cong altar cabinet. (Photo: VNA)

The village has existed for more than a century in Ong Non hamlet, Go Cong town, 40km from My Tho city. The Go Cong altar cabinet is respected for its design and use of mother-of-pearl wood. Its components are connected by mortise and dowel rather than nails or screws.

Go Cong artisans used to make mother-of-pearl pictures of flowers on the front of the cabinets. Now the pictures often depict folktales, famous places, and beautiful landscapes.

Ngo Tan Loc, the owner of the Ba Duc altar cabinet facility, is the seventh child of Ba Duc, one of the founders of the craft. Loc recalled, “Since 1995 the craft has thrived. It provides jobs to local youths and women. Everything used to be done manually, but machinery has made the job easier.”

Local craftsmen have diversified their designs without sacrificing traditional aesthetic harmony to meet consumer demand.

Pham Van Nam of Tan Trung commune says Go Cong altar cabinets are now built with as many as 21 pillars. In the past they had no more than 6. Some cabinets cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

“Wood craftsmanship, which is more profitable than most other professions, has reduced local poverty. There are no longer any poor households in Tan Trung commune. It used to take 2 to 3 months to make a cabinet. Now it takes less time,” said Nam.

He noted the Department of Industry and Trade subsidizes 30% of the cost of new machinery, and villagers have donated land to the commune to build new roads for the craft village.

Go Cong – popular altar cabinet making village - ảnh 2Carving altar cabinets requires deftness and qualification. (Photo: VNA)

In addition to making altar cabinets, Nam's workshop also makes wooden tables, sofas, and chairs. He recently invested in wood drying machines to replace the manual drying method.  

In the past, Go Cong products were only sold in one or two neighboring provinces. Now they are available nationwide, helping local households improve their standard of living.

In 2004, Tien Giang People's Committee designated Go Cong an altar cabinet craft village, making it one of the first craft villages in the province.

80% of the households in Tan Trung commune are engaged in making altar cabinets. 150 establishments employ thousands of full-time workers. Now Go Cong altar cabinets are even exported to other countries.