Viet-Nam, Civilization and Culture – THE TINSMITHS, COINS CASTERS, GOLDSMITHS and SILVERSMITHS, TINMEN, BRONZE-FOUNDERS, LOCKSMITHS

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By PIERRE HUARD1
(Honour Member of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient)
and MAURICE DURAND2
(Member of the École Française d’Extrême-Orient3)
Revised 3rd edition 1998, Imprimerie Nationale Paris,

      They worked on tinplate, zinc and tin. Before the arrival of Occidentals, their industry was limited to manufacturing little cones surmounting hats, oil cups serving as lamps, boxes to contain opium and a few other various utensils. Afterwards, it has taken a great development. While working the traditional tinsmith remains seated or squatted, energetically making use of his hands and feet which the two big toes, or the big toe and the second toe reunited, constitute a living vice, supple and solid. This permits to present the worked objects under the wanted incidence for tools (file, hammer, rivet-driver) handled by hands that remain free. Finally, in the cutting work, the shears’ immovable branch is fixed by the big toe, while one of the two hands manoeuvres the mobile branch and the [Page 190] other hand guides the metal sheet that must be cut. The word “quặp” expresses the idea of seizing an object between the second and the big toe. [Page 191]

COINS CASTERS

[Page 191]  The first coins and gold bars had been casted in Hanoi by Lưu Xuân Tín, accordingly to a chinese technique (Tín lived under Lê Thánh Tôn i.e. towards 1461).
      The current coins moulded and moltened (but not minted) contained a quite large quantity of loam mixed with zine.
        The manufacturing chain is as follows (see also the manufacture of coins (sapèques) in Revue Indochinoise, 1900).

  1. Sand moulding;
  2. Zinc fusion;
  3. Casting of molten metal in moulds;
  4. Sorting of utilizable coins.

GOLDSMITHS and SILVERSMITHS

     The patrons of goldsmiths are the three brothers Trần Hòa, Trần Điện and Trần Điền who learned their art in China towards the 6th century.

    A little chest with drawers, containing precious materials and objects they are working on, and terminated by a horizontal bellows with piston (cái bễ) suffices for traditional gold and silversmiths. The bellow’s pipe coming out from the chest is received in a cavity dug in the ground. Two bricks and a few pieces of charcoal constitute a furnace. A metal armed wooden mallet (búa và), engraving points, a few wood blocks and a little anvil complete this professional instrumentation. Except for a few rings (jewelled rings or chain links), there was no manufacturing of massive objects. All jewels are made of silver or gold sheets, more or less thick, worked in repoussé, shaped or stamped all the more easy when it is question of pure metals without any alloy. Dipped gold jewels are sunk into a boiled and concentrated solution, either of sophora flowers (hoè) or of tai chua pericarp (Garcinia pedunculata). Then, one washes them in a very hot sulphur-bath. [Page 191]

TINMEN

      Their patron is Phạm Ngọc Thành who introduced chinese technique into North Vietnam towards 1518.
      [Page 192] Traditional rice cooking-pots made of hammered copper, with skilful curves set in alternation, prove a perfect technique, admired by connoisseurs.

BRONZE-FOUNDERS

     Their patron is bonze Khổng Lộ who learned copper melting in China and diffused its technique in North Vietnam towards 1226. Ulterior foreign influences are to be noted like that of Jean de la Croix, portuguese hybreed, cannon-founder in Huế (18th century). Lost wax-melting has always been in honour. The Trần Vũ statue (pagoda properly so called that of Great Buddha in Hanoi) and dynastical urns in Huế show the skillfulness of vietnamese bronze-founders (see also Chochod, Founding methods employed in Annam, in BEFEO, IX, 155).

LOCKSMITHS

      Sinoid culture has known the roller padlock and the spring-stud, often employed to lock large pieces of furniture. In traditional vietnamese culture, padlock is unknown and houses’ gates are locked by clamping, using wooden bars.

Bibliography

+  J. Silvestre. Notes to be used in the research and classification of monies and medals of Annam and French Cochin-china (Saigon, Imprimerie nationale, 1883).
+  G.B. Glover. The plates of Chinese, Annamese, Japanese, Korean coins, of the coins used as amulets of the Chinese government and private notes (Noronha and Co Hongkong, 1895).

+  Lemire. Ancient and modern arts and cults of Indochina (Paris, Challamel). Conference made on Dec. 29 at the Sociéte francaise des Ingénieurs coloniaux.
+  Désiré Lacroix. Annamese numismatics, 1900.
+  Pouchat. Joss-sticks industry in Tonquin, in Revue Indochinoise, 1910–1911.

+  Cordier. On annamese art, in Revue Indochinoise, 1912.
+  Marcel Bernanose. Art workmen in Tonquin (Decoration of metal, Jewellers), in Revue Indochinoise, N.s. 20, July–December 1913, p. 279–290.
+  A. Barbotin. Firecrackers industry in Tonquin, in Bulletin Economique de l’Indochine, September–October 1913.

+  R. Orband. Art bronzes of Minh Mạng, in BAVH, 1914.
+  L. Cadière. Art in Huế, in BAVH, 1919.
+  M. Bernanose. Decorative arts in Tonquin, Paris, 1922.
+  C. Gravelle. Annamese art, in BAVH, 1925.

+  Albert Durier. Annamese decoration, Paris 1926.
+  Beaucarnot (Claude). Ceramic technological elements for the use of ceramic sections of art schools in Indochina, Hanoi, 1930.
+  L Gilbert. Industry in Annam, in BAVH, 1931.
+  Lemasson. Information on fish-breeding methods in the tonquinese delta, 1993, p.707.

+  H. Gourdon. Art of Annam, Paris, 1933.
+  Thân Trọng Khôi. Lifting wheels of Quảng Nam and paddles norias of Thừa Thiên, 1935, p. 349.
+  Guilleminet. Norias of Quảng Ngãi, in BAVH, 1926.
+  Guilleminet. Soya base preparations in Annamese’s alimention, in Bulletin économique de l’Indochine, 1935.
+  L. Feunteun. Artificial hatching of duck’s eggs in Cochinchina, in Bulletin Economique de l’Indochine, 1935, p. 231.

[214]

+  Rudolf P. Hummel. China at work, 1937.
+  Mercier, Annamese craftsmen’s tools, in BEFEO, 1937.
+  R.P.Y. Laubie. Popular imagery in Tonquin, in BAVH, 1931.
+  P. Gourou. Village industry in the Tonquinese delta, International congress of Geography, 1938.

+  P. Gourou. Chinese anise-tree in Tonquin (communiqué of agricultural services in Tonquin), 1938, p. 966.
+  Ch. Crevost. Conversations on working classes in Tonquin, 1939.
+  G. de Coral Remusat. Annamese art, Moslem arts, in Extreme-Orient, Paris, 1939.
+  Nguyễn Văn Tố. Human face in annamese art, in CEFEO, N°18, 1st trimester 1939.

+  Henri Bouchon. Indigenous working classes and complementary crafts, in Indochine, 26 sept. 1940.
+  X… — Charles Crevost. An animator of tonquinese Working class, in Indochine, Juin 15, 1944.
+  Công nghệ thiệt hành (practical industries), in Revue de Vulgarisation, Saigon, 1940.
+  Passignat. The masters-Iacquerers of Hanoi, in Indochine February 6, 1941.

+  Passignat. Lacquer, in Indochine, Dec. 25, 1941.
+  Passignat. Ivory, in Indochine, January 15, 1942.
+  Serene (R.) An Annamese traditional technique: Woodcut, in Indochine, Oct. 1st, 1942.
+  Nguyễn Xuân Nghi alias Từ Lâm, Lược khảo mỹ thuật Việt Nam (Outline of Vietnamese Art), Hanoi, Thuỵ-ký printinghouse, 1942.

+  L. Bezacier. Essay on Annamese art, Hanoi, 1944.
+  Paul Boudet. Annamese paper, in Indochine, Jan. 27 and Feb. 17, 1944.
+  Mạnh Quỳnh. Origin and signification of popular woodcuts of Tet, in Indochine, Feb. 10, 1945.
+  Crevost et Petelot. Catalogue of products of Indochina, tome VI. Tannins and tinctorials (1941). [Vietnamese names of products are given].

+  Aug. Chevalier. First inventory of woods and other forest products of Tonquin, Hanoi, Ideo, 1919. (Vietnamese names are given).
+  Lecomte. The woods of Indochina, Agence Economique de l’Indochine, Paris, 1926.
+  R. Bulteau. Notes on the manufacturing of potteries in Bình Định province, in BAVH, 1927, p. 149 and 184 (contains a good list of various potteries of Bình Định and their figurations as well as their local names).
+  Despierres. Chinese abacus, in Sud-Est, 1951.

NOTES :
◊  Source: Connaisance du Viet Nam, PIERRE HUARD & MAURICE DURAND, Revised 3rd Edition 1998, Imprimerie Nationale Paris, École Française D’Extrême-Orient, Hanoi – Translated by VU THIEN KIM – NGUYEN PHAN ST Minh Nhat’s Archives.
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