A veteran engraving artisan in town
Le Tien Dung has over 37 years of experience in the engraving craft, so he can be seen as a veteran artisan in HCMC.
An unexpected job
Dung, 58, was born into a poor family in the northern province of Hai Duong. He had profound passion for art at an early age. With his enthusiam and strong determination, he entered the Hanoi University of Architecture at the age of 18.
He joined the army while at university and moved to the south for battles. When the country was reunified in 1975, he decided to settle down in Saigon, a bustling and promising city. Then, he had no job and his health began deteriorating.
Dung says he took up the occupation by accident. One day, he saw an artisan engraving words on a pen, he felt interested in this work and followed the artisan as a teacher. Since then, he has been attached to this job.
While Dung was walking around with a friend of his, he saw an old man doing the engraving, with a large number of guests standing in line. After his careful consideration, he decided to become a sidewalk engraver. At first, he thought that he needed to do this job for a few years to earn enough money to shift to a better job. But has has been with this occupation for over three decades. He is now a usual sight at the intersection of Le Loi and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia streets in the central business district of HCMC.
A sense of happiness
Recalling the early days of his job, Dung says he had to move around the city to look for customers. In the 1980s, engraving was popular, especially at souvernir shops. These stores often sent in large volumes of items, forcing him to stay up late to ensure timely delivery.
Dung has been teaching his son as he is afraid that the engraving craft could fall into oblivion. Some people interested in engraving have come to him for some lessons and he has shown them all what he masters.
He feels happy with the job as he can earn a living while preserving the traditional craft.