Tramping around Binh An drum village

Nga Do
To meet the cultural discovery demand of tourists, many regions nationwide are making great effort to restore, preserve and develop craft villages. The Binh An Drum Making Village is suggested as a must-see in the Mekong Delta Province of Long An.

Tramping around Binh An drum village
Photo by internet
Binh An Drum Making Village located in Binh Lang Commune, Tan Tru District is where tourists can wallow in the endless green of the rice fields and the charming scenery of the countryside with buffalos and conical hats gleaming in the sun.

In some places, tourists can see many buffalo skin drying under the sun. Those are used to make drum skins, which are commonly known as drum heads and refer to the membrane stretched across one or both open ends of a drum to produce sound.

According to a local seasoned artisan, the craft first appeared at the village 100 years ago. A fish sauce vendor once fished many buffalo skins out of a river which were tossed away by hunters. With a habit of covering milk cans with toad skins as toys for children, the fellow dried the skins and stretched them into wooden buckets that are described as hoop of drums.

The vendor spent much time discovering techniques to make a good sound and eventually became the founder of the village’s craft.

With profound passion for the craft, Nguyen Van Ty handed the tradition down to younger generations as well as other villagers. His forth generation, Nguyen Van Men’s family, is still living with the craft. Many dragon dance troupes in the South and the Central come to buy his drums. “We admire the talents of drum making of the Nguyen Van Men family. The sound is so clear, solid and resounding. Moreover, the hoop of drums is tight together without paint or glue, creating its durability of five or six years,” said Luu Kien Xuong, head of the Nhon Nghia Duong lion dance troupe.

Talents of the Nguyen Van Men family have gained much appreciation of dance troupes. They buy all kinds of drums, not only for artistic performances, but also for religious rituals. The brand name of Binh An village travels around the country. Demand is also increasing from art centers nationwide so many young people come to the Men house to learn the tradition.

Vietnamese lion dance troupes bring drums of Binh An Village abroad for shows that have gained much attention. Sometimes, the quiet village becomes animated as traders from China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia and even Europe come to the village and order drums.

Although the craft is in vogue at the village, Men worries that imported drums of high-tech development will make people forget the handmade ones. He said the craft required not only skills but also a profound enthusiasm while many young people think of the craft as a normal way to earn money only.

To preserve the craft as well as the indigenous cultural feature, Men decided to establish a drum club to make high-quality drums for foreign traders. Local artisans also receive help from local authorities to develop the craft and promote it to tourists who can learn how to make a drum. Each drum is a work of art, made with dexterity, meticulousness, deep passion and diligence.

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