Caobang Geopark

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PAC RANG FORGING VILLAGE

lang ren phuc sen
PAC RANG FORGING VILLAGE
The Pac Rang village at Phuc Sen Commune, Quang Uyen District, has a long tradition of forging. It is said the village was established in the 11th century. In the early days, the villagers produced weaponry for the Nung Ton Phuc and Nung Tri Cao’s army to fight gainst the Song army. When peace resumed, they made farm and domestic tools. It is also said villagers used to cast even cannons and grenade casings during the French war.

There is a tale explaining the origin of this craft village. It says once upon a time there was an old man walking by. He noticed the local Nung An people were very poor as they lived only by hunting. He, however, also found the local people were very kind, and they had extraordinary bright eyes as they could walk at night in the forest without any lighting. The old man decided to teach the local people how to forge tools. After teaching, he left without saying goodbye to anyone, and none ever knew his name or home. The Nung An people in Phuc Sen have since erected a temple to commemorate their teacher, and each family has an incense bowl to express people’s gratitude to him.

Currently, more than half of the nearly 400 families in Pac Rang village forge, making it the largest “forging factory” in North Vietnam. Many families have practised forging for tens of generations. The products of the village are famous for their sharpness and durability rather than their appearance. The forgers also share that they must sense the steel so that products are durable but not brittle, and flexible but not soft. The water to harden steel is prepared by each family, and the way to make it is often kept secret.

There is a plausible feeling that perhaps Pac Rang forging village has inherited the essence of the brilliant Metal Age Dong Son Culture that was famous for making bronze weaponry. Thanks to the natural conditions of karst forests with an abundant source of minerals, coupled with the skill, wisdom and diligence of the Nung An people, they can make those high quality products.
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