Dang Dinh Duy: From buffalo herder to famed sculptor and art restorer

 Artisan from Bac Ninh Province specializes in sculpting art relief, spending most of his time restoring cultural works and teaching his unique craft to younger generations.

from buffalo herder to famed sculptor and art restorer

Dang Dinh Duy was born 42 years ago to a family steeped in the tradition of making art reliefs. He was inspired by his grandfather Nguyen Duy Ma, who was a famous artisan in the old Kinh Bac region.

Inheriting skills from both his father and grandfather, Duy showed an aptitude for making statues and art reliefs at a very young age. Every day, while tending buffaloes with his friends in the field, Duy used to make clay statues of animal figures such as lions, tigers, and dragons.

When his mother and grandmother took him to pagodas at a later age, he developed a passion for the Buddha or Bodhisattva statues he saw there. Although Duy had not yet learned to make clay statues, his simple AAt the age of 12, Duy’s father took him to learn the family’s traditional craft. In the morning, Duy went to school, and in the afternoon, he followed his father to learn how to make patterns, or mascots in pagodas and temples.

With an aptitude and passion for the craft, Duy soon mastered the art relief craft. After studying with his father for 10 years and more than 15 years of vocational courses in sculpture, Dang Dinh Duy has earned a reputation for his artistry and business acumen in Bac Ninh Province and beyond. He is highly appreciated by experts for his sculpture techniques in restoring cultural works.

The artisan said that in order to properly restore spiritual and cultural works, skilled workers must be knowledgeable about historical and cultural characteristics of different periods in different regions. They must highlight the spiritual features of the works, respect their sacredness and sense pride in their national beauty.

In addition to individual achievements, Duy has taught his craft to pupils in Bac Ninh and neighboring provinces, training hundreds of workers, many of whom have opened their own business. His company Duy Linh Mend Embellished and Construction Company Limited was established in 2012 and has since experienced strong development and created regular jobs for over 200 workers with an average monthly salary of more than VND10 million.

In addition, artisan Duy participates in charitable and humanitarian activities such as donating to the poor, the construction of gratitude houses and a number of temples and pagodas. In 2017, his company spent VND3 billion from its revenue, and the wages and voluntary contributions of the employees on charitable activities.

For artisan Dang Dinh Duy, renovating cultural and spiritual works is not just a source of income. “Besides sleeping time, I am devoted to work which is my passion. I am engrossed in my work all day long, and never feel bored,” he said.

In recognition of his contribution, numerous titles have been conferred on artisan Dang Dinh Duy, including the Golden Hand by the Vietnam Association of Craft Villages in 2011; the Vietnam Craft Village Artist in 2012; and the “Sculpture, renovating spiritual cultural works” Artist in 2013. He was also awarded the Certificate of Merit for outstanding achievements in the period of 1997-2017 by the chair of the Bac Ninh provincial People’s Committee, as well as other merit awards.

Quynh Nga & Thanh Tam