Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

By Diep Phan   May 10, 2020 | 02:45 pm GMT+7
Despite the golden age of forging a thing of the past, a family in Saigon keeps the embers burning.
Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

Le Van Chau has operated his 10-square-meter forge, one of the last in Saigon, in a small alley on Nhat Tao Street, District 10 since 1982.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

First working in construction, 30-year-old Chau turned towards a more stable and diversified forging career, serving industries from agriculture to engineering.

“I only needed three months to master the basics and open my own forge,” he said.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

59-year-old Nguyen Thi Minh Nguyet, has been forging for 20 years after training with her husband.

“Previously, we employed three to four forgers, but they quit so I decided to lend a hand,” Nguyet stated.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

During the 90s, the forge worked non-stop to supply Saigon and nearby provinces. Today, however, customers opt for industrially produced goods.

“Machines are replacing humans. Industrial products are cheaper and more versatile,” Chau said.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, business became even more challenging. In early May, Chau had nothing more to do than sharpen 50 chisels for a local company, relying increasingly outdated tools.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

Forging requires strength, flexibility, heat-tolerance and a bit of dexterity.

“Doing nothing is tiring. Working keeps you strong,” Nguyet said.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

For each chisel sharpened, Chau earns VND7,000 ($0.3).

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

Commenting on his wife’s decision to turn blacksmith, Chau said: “She is the only woman who daily wields a hammer in this city.”

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

After returning from military duty, Chau’s son, 26-year-old Le Van Vinh couldn’t find work and decided to support his family. “This job raised me, so I will embrace it,” Vinh said.

Saigon couple forges ahead after 38 years making sparks fly

Though forging offers little income, Chau and his wife would never switching jobs.

“The less you work, the less you get. We are old and cannot act like youngsters anymore,” Chau said. 

 
 
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