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The keeper of blacksmithing in Hong Lu village

Quang NamMr. Tran Dinh Thai, 68 years old, is the fifth generation to preserve the blacksmith profession in Hong Lu village, earn money to support his three children to attend university.

Mr. Thai (Hoa Huong ward, Tam Ky city) often wakes up early, has breakfast, and then starts his work day by the fiery red coal stove at the forge. The blacksmith’s calloused hands quickly removed the pre-cut pieces of steel, 30 cm long and about 5 cm wide, into the furnace. Leave in high heat for about 10 minutes, he holds pliers to turn them back and forth, so that they are red evenly.

Steel “ripe”, he hastily wiped the sweat stains on his face, and then hurriedly picked them up. One hand holds the pliers firmly on the anvil, the other hand uses a hammer. Just like that, after a few minutes, the piece of steel was shaped like a hoe about 15cm long and 5cm wide. They continue to be heated through fire and forged many times before being sharpened for sale in the market.

Mr. Trinh Dinh Thai is turning the fire to heat steel.  Photo: Dac Thanh

Mr. Tran Dinh Thai is turning the fire to heat steel. Image: Dac Thanh

Born in a family of manual blacksmiths, at the age of 15, Mr. Thai was taught by his father. Growing up, he took over and kept the smithy fire to this day. He remembers, when he first joined the profession, he was only allowed to light a furnace and fan, and after a few years of familiarity and experience, he was assigned to forge.

People who do this job require health and endurance, because the work is hard, it must start early in the morning. To make a product, workers have to perform many stages, from cutting iron to shape, heating, beating, dipping in water, then heating, beating until the product is shaped, sharpened.. .

“Blacksmithing in the village basically has the same stages, but each family has its own secret to make the product good and durable,” he said, adding that more than 50 years of working with blacksmithing helped him get used to it. the blazing heat from the furnace and the noise of hammering, hammering, grinding, and dust.

So many years of experience also helped him just look at the pinkness of the iron and steel heated on the fire to know if the steel was “ripe” just right, because just “young”, or “old” a little bit, the product will not be good. . According to him, steel has different degrees of pink, so workers must have a sharp eye and have “professional aptitude”.

Red-fired steel was forged by Mr. Thai using pliers.  Photo: Dac Thanh

The cooked steel is forged by Mr. Thai using pliers. Image: Dac Thanh

More than 10 years ago, in addition to Mr. Thai’s smithy, Hong Lu village had more than 35 other forges. However, when the supplies of machetes, agricultural tools from abroad and the northern provinces overflowed, the forging village operated in moderation because the products could not be sold due to high prices. Many furnaces in the village had to “turn off the fire” or change jobs.

Mr. Thai has been to many central and northern provinces to learn how to make good products at low prices. Field trips helped him realize that “must change the way of production to keep up with the times”. He invested in machinery and applied production technology to reduce labor and increase the number of products. Since then, product prices have been reduced.

Every time the fire was red, he also took advantage of mass production, saving coal sources to reduce production costs. The blacksmith also borrows capital, makes many products to store in the warehouse, so that when the crop is in season, the farmer consumes strongly, the goods are available for sale. In addition, his wife also opened a stall in Tam Ky market to consume products and export them to many places.

“In the new situation, my smithy still exists. Goods are produced in the traditional way, so many people like it because of its durability and sharpness. As long as farming exists, there will still be a need for products. products of Hong Lu village”, he affirmed.

Mr. Thai and his assistant beat the forged steel into a pickaxe.  Photo: Dac Thanh

Mr. Thai and his assistant beat the forged steel into a pickaxe. Image: Dac Thanh

Every day the fire of blacksmithing, Mr. Thai earns about 500,000 VND; assistant worker 300,000 VND. According to him, this income is not high, but he can still live with his job, helping him to raise three children to attend college. Although his children do not follow the profession, Mr. Thai is still happy because his two younger brothers still keep the profession passed down with him.

Hong Lu forging village has a history of hundreds of years ago, with knives, machetes, agricultural tools for agricultural production. Before the August Revolution of 1945, the people of Hong Lu participated in the production of weapons such as spikes, spears, spears, bows and arrows, knives, machetes, etc. to serve the resistance war and were presented by the Government Council at that time. Certificate of Merit for contributing to the victory of the revolution. Since then, the reputation of Hong Lu forging village has spread everywhere. The manufactured goods are not only sold locally but also exported to the central provinces, the Central Highlands and Laos.

Years passed on the skill of blacksmithing

Stages of forging a pickaxe. Video: Dac Thanh

Dac Thanh

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