The Art of Making Soft Curves with Hard Wood
Folk architecture consists of wood, stone, brick and thatch, bamboo and leaves, which are quite popular throughout Viet Nam. Houses made of thatch, bamboo and leaves can be found in many rural areas in Viet Nam, while the wooden architecture is most typically represented in pagodas, villages' communal houses and houses of wealthy families across the country. Some of the well-known historical sites with wooden architecture are One-pillar pagoda, Dau pagoda, Boi Khe pagoda, Thai Lac pagoda, Keo pagoda, But Thap pagoda, Tay Phuong pagoda, Dinh Bang communal house, and ancient houses in big cities, particularly in Hanoi, Hoi An and Hue.
The carpentry village of Kim Bong. Located on a tiny island just south of Hoi An, the village has an incredible history of woodcarving said to be founded in the 15th century by four soldiers of King Lei Loi’s army. All skilled at carpentry, they established successful workshops and became the four main craftsmen families in the village (Huynh, Nguyen, Truong and Phan). Incredibly, many of these families still exist today and continue to preserve the skills their ancestors have passed down to them. Carpentry continued to thrive in the village and, over the centuries, the craftsmen became renowned not only in Vietnam but throughout the world. It is said that in the 17th century carpenters from the village helped to build one of the Spanish warships for their Navy. At its peak, it is believed that up to 85% of the village were involved in woodwork in some shape or form. This success continued and in the 18th century woodcarvers and carpenters from the village did an incredible amount of the detailed work on the former imperial capital of Hue City.
Today, there are four main types of carpentry and woodcarving carried out in the village; traditional houses, boats, souvenirs and furniture.