Le Van Chau, 60, has worked as a smith for over 30 years and still maintains his smith shop in HCM City, preserving the trade of hand forging.
Even though the shop, located nearby Nhat Tao Market in District 10, produces a lot of noise beginning early in the morning, Chau and his place are a valued part of the community. Many of the residents even say that they enjoy the sounds coming from the workshop.
“My job and my life are inextricably linked,” said Chau. “Many years ago, when I was a young man, I fell in love and married my former wife. We had to live on the modest income from my construction work. But her father was a blacksmith and he decided to teach me his trade.”
“I and my wife decided to divorce a few years after our marriage. We had a daughter. A period of time later, I married a woman who is nine years younger than me. She has supported me a lot in maintaining my smith shop,” he said.
His career reached its peak several years ago when he produced a lot of products which were sold in several markets in the surrounding areas. Most of the products were devices that support car wielding.
As the shop has existed for many years, it seems that Chau’s neighbours have all got used to the noise and learned how to enjoy it.
“We’ve familiar with the noise from the shop. Some days when workers have a day off, we feel as if there is something missing. Chau’s family has built up a good neighbourhood. His shop always stops working at noon when people take a short nap,” a neighbour said.
Several others consider the smith shop a unique thing in the metropolis.
Short video: look inside a modern blacksmith’s shop
One of Chau’s neighbors commented, “I think his shop is something really unique in a city that is going through such fast industrialisation. It reminds me of the way things used to be.”
The shop still recruits a handful of skilled workers to meet their modest demand.
“I’m getting on in years and it’s becoming more difficult for me to run the entire shop, but I do my best in order to keep the craft alive and pay respect to my ancestors,” Chau added.