Vac Village or Canh Hoach Village, about 30km from the centre of Hanoi, has long been a popular place for bird tenders because it has long been known for its traditional birdcage.  So famous is their birdcage that it appears in the old folk song.

Vac village – a familiar place of the ornamental bird tenders

In June, braving the scorching heat, the villagers in Vac village in Thanh Oai district,  still work so zealously that they don’t feel the sweat dripping.  Everyone in the village is so busy. The heat cannot slow down the life of this traditional handicraft villages. Despite the urbanization, the village still has asserted itself with the simple products which have associated with daily life for hundreds of years.

Bamboo, the material for making birdcages, is dried around village roads.

Whenever talking about birdcage, bird tenders always mention to Vac village. As the standard cage, this cage also shares the same producing process, but the difference between Vac’s birdcages and the typical ones is the much more meticulousness of the Vac village’s craftsmen. Notably, the way they choose bamboo to make a cage also makes the bamboo traders speak with respect. It must be good wild bamboo originating from the northern mountainous provinces:  Cao Bang, Lang Son, Hoa Binh.

Thanks to the excellent material, despite the Vac birdcages of all different sizes and designs, the longer they are used, the glossier they become. For that reason, the village has become a famous place for bird tenders in Hanoi. Many people from different cities, Hung Yen, Hai Phong, and Ho Chi Minh City, travelling out here for seeing and buying a birdcage.

The sturdy, elaborate and sophisticated birdcages can satisfy any bird keeper.

Traditional profession from father to son

Like many other traditional craft villages, everyone can participate in the production of birdcages.  Mr Đào Quốc Việt’s family is a typical example; the members in his family are in charge of the different steps. Mr Việt makes the bottom of the cage. And his son-in-law takes charge of making the cage legs. His daughter will make the rim. His wife, Mrs Nguyễn Thị Thư, makes with the body of the cage.  Everyone is wholehearted with their work,  which is the key for artisans to create each part matching with each other to form the completed birdcage.

Birdcage workshop of Mr Đào Quốc Việt and his wife

“This traditional craft has from generation to generation, from our father to us. And now when we took over the workshop, we also passed the job on to our children so that they could continue to maintain and develop our father’s traditional profession.  Every step to make a birdcage is equally important. The whole making process requires enthusiasm and meticulousness from the craftsmen.”  said Mr Viet.

To make a beautiful birdcage, the craftsman must be skilful and must know each type of bird thoroughly to make cages suitable for their size and their living habits.

The craftsman must know thoroughly about their characteristics and their habits to make a proper cage for them.  Photo:  Tiến Sỹ

“Usually we make birdcages when we receive the orders from birdmen. We have to discuss and know about the types of birds that customers are petting so that we can design proper cages.  That also requires the sophistication of the craftsman ”- Ms Nguyen Thi Thu said.

Traditional handicraft helps to change the homeland

Right next to Mr Viet’s house is the making birdcages workshop of Mr Nguyen Quang Vinh and his wife, Nguyen Thi Nong.  They have spent their whole life making birdcages.  Now their daughter and their son-in-law will keep developing this traditional profession.  Until now, though they are old, weaving birdcages has become their habit.

“When I was young, I worked very hard in agriculture, but my income was not much.  When I made and sold birdcages, my life was better. So my children decided to follow our work and to make it develop. Beside producing birdcages,  purchase cages from other workshops to sell at many provinces.”  said Ms Nguyen Thi Nong.

Mrs Nong is making the top of the cage.

Mr Nguyen Van Duong, Chairman of People’s Committee of Dan Hoa commune, Thanh Oai district, said that the profession of making birdcages helps to better the income of villagers and develop the new tourism model, craft village exploration tour.

“In Dan Hoa commune, the income from producing handicraft products accounts for about 70% of the total revenue in the area, while the income from agriculture only occupies less than 10%.  Canh Hoach village with the profession of producing birdcages has the highest pay in Dan Hoa commune.  It is estimated that producing birdcages helps people earn an average income of 6-8 million / month.

Mr Nguyen Van Duong, Chairman of People’s Committee of Dan Hoa commune, Thanh Oai district, Hanoi

“Thanh Oai authorities are also planning a project to develop craft village tours here. And the craft village Canh Hoach is also included in the project.  Recent years, some travel agencies have taken tourists to visit to learn about traditional craft villages.  I believe that Thanh Oai will be the potential land for the development of the craft village exploration tour.”– Mr Nguyen Van Duong said.

Along with the peaceful landscape and the continuous development of traditional craft, the signature birdcages will make Vac village’s reputation much more popular.


By Anh Vũ/ Vietnam Journey