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The way Danang people love stones

(No.6, Vol.7,Dec 2017-Jan 2018 Vietnam Heritage Magazine)









Located at the foot of Ngu Hanh Son (Five Finger Mount), marble sculpture trade village Non Nuoc (Mountain and Water) of Hoa Hai Commune, Ngu Hanh Son District, is considered the oldest and most famous trade village of Danang.
Through 4 centuries of refinement, Non Nuoc pieces of stone art have taken a firm place in the market, at home and abroad.
The main material for stone sculptures is marble, a noble specimen, with colorful veins, very suitable for construction and sculpturing. Available in Ngu Hanh Son mountain in large quantity, this stone takes hard work and knowledge to extract.
Leading a team of marble miners is normally an experienced man of mature age, who can identify where to get high quality marble with elegant veins of beautiful colors. This man is usually called the ‘Martial Man’. Under the ‘Martial Man’s’ direction the team extracts stones of suitable size as ordered.
‘Letter Man’, who has years of experience in stone processing, will take over the materials from the ‘Martial Man’s’ team. For each stone he cuts a base and identifies a starting point. Following his instructions, stone workers make a sketch on paper, and draw or print the figure to be made on the marble face. Then the rough cutting begins.
As the desired figure is formed, the worker begins carving decorative patterns and designs, whetting and polishing. This meticulous part of the job, full of details, requires from the worker dexterity, skills and a keen sense of beauty. Looking at working sculptors, it seems that every move of the chisel, every strike of the hammer is full of love towards the insentient stones, and towards the ancestral traditions and trade.
Marble products made by Non Nuoc villagers and masters are very diverse, including statues of Buddha, saints, humans, animals, and other adornment items. Each piece is a result of hard work and refinement of diligent and talented hands, reflecting moral, spiritual and cultural values of the local people.
Historical records show that the marble sculpture trade village of Non Nuoc was formed in the XVIII century by a man named Huynh Ba Quat from Thanh Hoa. On his way looking for livelihood, Mr Quat found beautiful stones at Non Nuoc. He tried carving them to make steles, grinders and mortars for rice, pepper and herbal medicines for sale. It was a success. The profitable trade grew quickly and Mr Quat began teaching it to his descendants and the folks around. In the Nguyen Dynasty era, Non Nuoc became a very prosperous and busy marble trade village.
Currently, Non Nuoc has nearly 500 marble sculpting businesses with about 4,000 workers and many famous masters. Many families have been carving marble for seven, eight generations.
Today, most of these businesses are located on Nguyen Duy Trinh and Princess Huyen Tran roads in the Ngu Hanh Son District. Visitors can’t help admiring the artisans’ skillful hands under which exotic beautiful souvenirs take shape. Better yet, the businesses here accept orders for sculptures of any size and weight, even large and heavy ones.
A great many traders or tourists from Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, France, Canada, The Netherlands and US have come here to sign contracts ordering for products made at Non Nuoc marble village, many of which are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Text by Thanh Phong and Photos by An Thanh Dat
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