Inside the store of Hanoi's last moon-cake mold maker

Last update: 13:00 | 31/12/2017

Mr. Pham Van Quang, 62, is one of the last moon-cake mold makers in Hanoi. He has pursued the job for nearly four decades.

Quang, a resident of Hang Quat Street, Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, said his family has made moon-cake molds for three generations. Coming home after arming in the war Viet – Laos (1976-1980), Quang started doing his generation-to-generation craft – making mold.

The busiest time for mold makers is from the 5th to 8th months of the lunar calendar. As he shared, “in the past time, moon cake was kind of luxury cuisine in Vietnam. Only people in Hanoi city has the circumstances to purchase moon-cake for worship during mid-autumn festival”.

“Not only a cuisine, moon-cake crystallizes from Vietnamese rice culture, whose fillings are Vietnam featuring agriculture products such as pork meat, mung bean, lotus seed…”, said the craftsman.

Without propaganda or commercial ads, Quang’s craft store is crowded with varied customers from the north to the south of Vietnam as well as oversea. Many by-pass foreigners feel curious with his job also.

According to Quang, the secret to make a mold is that craftsman must be calm-mind, precise and give his whole mind into the job. Two kinds of wood chosen to make the mold are thi wood and xa cu wood, with moderate firm and flexible structure. Hence, it’s easier to get the cake out of the mold with smooth and complete surface.

His shop is only about 10m2 in size.

Besides the traditional cake molds such as carp, daisy, lotus and traditional characters, Quang also makes molds featuring cartoon characters who are favored by children like Doraemon, Zhu Bajie and customized ones with individual logo, brand…

Quang’s molds are mainly provided for traditional moon-cake producers in Hanoi. However, none of his children take up the family’s craft. There’s hardly the second handmade moon-cake mold store in Hanoi at the moment.


The store in 59 Hang Quat street becomes outstanding with varied kind of mold hang in and out


Quang's store in 59 Hang Quat street is about 10m2 in size


According to Quang, the key is that craftsman must be calm-minded, precise and gives his whole mind into the job.


Moon-cake molds are handmade so the patterns are unique and sophisticated.


Time stands till here


Besides the traditional cake molds, Quang also makes customized ones with respective logo, brand.

One of the most popular mold shapes is carp fish, showing Vietnamese desire to overcome hardship and achieve success as the story "carp fish turns into dragon", Quang said.


Quang's tool kit. 


The mere two kinds of wood chosen to make the mold are thi wood and xa cu wood, with moderate firm and flexible structure


It takes Quang 1-3 days to complete a moon-cake mold. The price for cake molds is from VND150,000 to VND300,000 ($7-14).


However, like many other traditional craft professions in Vietnam, making moon-cake mold is disappearing.


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