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[Photos] Inside the Dust-Covered World of Ninh Van's Traditional Stone Carvers

It's a rare treat to see generations of skill in person.

Earlier this year, I traveled to Ninh Binh from Hanoi for four days. I was resting in my hotel room one night after climbing up Hang Múa and happened to see a Việt Nam Newsshort documentary video about famous stone carvers in a nearby village called Ninh Van. I was fascinated by it, and decided to explore Ninh Van and its stone carvers the next day.

The taxi ride to Ninh Van took 15 minutes, and I saw a lot of carvers working in every store and factory as I walked around after arriving.

I was prepared for all of the dust from the carving on the main street, and I spotted one place with about seven carvers working from the street. I took a few photos, and I was not prepared for the owner to offer me hot tea as he welcomed me inside. I joined him without any hesitation.

I told him I’m deaf, which he understood quickly, and I observed the workers, who were passionately focused on the stones. He told me that his only son is a teenager, and that he is very talented. All of the workers accurately carved on the stones, and I was amazed by their technique. Check out their skill through my photos below.

A stone carving well on its way to completion.

An incredibly detailed finished statue.

A saw at work.

Part of the workshop, with Ninh Binh's signature limestone karsts in the background.

The workshop owner who offered me tea.

Work in detail.

The owner's son hard at work.

Here, tradition is being passed down from one generation to the next.

A carver drilling details out of stone.

Getting the finer points right.

This is not a clean working environment.

Carving away.

A shy smile from the owner's son.

Drilling away.

Focus.

An example of the incredible details these workers are able to create.

One of the carvers at the workshop.