Kieu Ky Village, gold leaf making

Kieu Ky - a suburb commune in Gia Lam district, has been well known for two traditional professions: production of thin gold-leaves and leather-made goods.

According to stories of the commune's elder persons, under the Ly dynasty, there was a talented person of higher education (named Nguyen Qui Tri) in Kieu Ky village, Kieu Ky commune, Gia Lam district. In his life, he was three times sent to China as an assistant envoy. On these occasions, he often spent time on walking and visiting various streets and places. And in this crowded country, he discovered the profession of making gold-leaves. Since then he decided to learn this profession to hand over to people in his homeland. Over many historical changes, making thin gold-leaves has been still maintained and become the traditional and unique handicraft profession of Kieu Ky. Perhaps, in Vietnam only workers of Kieu Ky can make such products: under magic human hands, a bar of pure gold is turned into various thin gold-leaves.For producing such gold-leaves, there are three main work stages: flatting, laminating, fragmenting and more sub-stages. The products are usually sold to different individuals, organizations and provincial institutions of culture-information sector throughout the country to gild on cau doi (pairs of parallel sentences), on horizontal and lacquered boards, or to inlay on statues of Buddha in pagodas, ancient relics, ...Presently, in Kieu Ky there are 60 families engaged in activities relating thin gold-leaves, of which 4 families work with pure gold and silver. The other families are engaged in making thin leaves from tin, copper, used for jewelry and different artistic articles, caskets, bowls, dishes and tea-sets. Mr. Le Ba Trung, a gold-leaves maker, says: "Who works with pure gold must be high-qualified. They need a professional skill. One tenth of teal is usually made into 3 gold units by a skilful worker (a gold unit comprises 500 gold-leaves with the size of 5cm x 5cm). The price of a gold unit is 270,000 VND (270,000 x 3 = 810,000 VND). Subtracting the expenses for buying gold, paper, ink and for equipment depreciation, the workers still get their profits".In addition to the profession of making thin gold-leaves, in Kieu Ky, the profession of sewing leather articles has also strongly developed in the recent years. As Mr. Chu Van Ham, the Party's committee secretary of Kieu Ky commune, said, in 1999, the total income of the commune's population amounted to 16 billion VND, of which money earned from leather-made articles accounted for 50 percent. The profession of sewing leather articles has been set up here since the Canh Hung times.Nowadays, among 1,600 households of the commune, 1,200 households are engaged in making leather articles. There are two groups of leather-made articles: one group is based on soft leather and the other on hard leather. The hard-leather group includes products like bags, suitcases, horse belts, saddles, belts..., while the second group comprises products to wear. Kieu Ky leather products are sold out in every Hanoi street, from Ha Trung street to streets surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake, and in Dong Xuan market. Presently, there are 2,000 units of sewing machine, 10 vans for transport in Kieu Ky. In the commune, there are 37 households working as brokers; they buy leather, cut it into smaller pieces and pass to other families for sewing. Local people usually work by season. From January to September they make bags, backpacks; and from September they work on orders, in ma strictly implemented.


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