Kieu Ky in Hanoi’s Gia Lam District is Vietnam’s only village which specialises in laminating gold by hand.
Over 500 years ago, Nguyen Quy Tri who lived during the late Le Dynasty (1428-1527) passed the craft down to Kieu Ky locals. Descendants of those locals now take his date of death – the 17th day of the eighth lunar month – as the annual chance to show their gratitude to the ancestor of the craft. After New Year, craftsmen often re-start their work with a ceremony on the 14th day of the first lunar month, during which a famous and skilled man, often ready to help villagers, is given the honor of making the first hammer strikes.
Local artisans go through many different sophisticated stages to make a finished product.
Firstly, artisans use hammers to beat a 24 carat gold or silver bar to become thinner and longer before then cutting them into 1cm pieces.
Then these pieces are added between La Quy, a special material made from traditional paper, covered by an ink made from pine resin, sawdust, glue and buffalo leather glue. The ink is spread on La Quy at least three times before being dried to ensure its durability.
A small precision scale is often used to weigh gold. One tenth of tael of gold can be laminated into a one square metre sheet.
A quy consisting of around 490 sheets of gold is wrapped in cloth then continues to be hammered for approximately one hour in order to become even thinner. Each quy is sold for VND1.6 million (USD76)
The product is used to decorate statues, parallel sentences or sculptural works.