When it comes to Thang Long – Dong Do – Hanoi, a capital city with a thousand-year history, trade villages cannot be missed. Among villages like Ngoc Ha Flower Village, Ngu Xa bronze casting village and Yen Thai poonah paper village, Yen Phu Incense Village has existed for a long time.
Crossing Thanh Nien – Co Ngu slope, people can see a village located at Yen Phu city gate, on the West river side in Tay Ho District. This village specializes not only in breeding ornamental fish but also in making incense for many years.
According to some documentations and village elders, the incense trade was established by a Chinese man in the 13th century. Buddhism and the customs of burning incense expanded in this village as well as in others. At the turning point of this century, Yen Phu Incense Village developed vigorously and attracted a large number people from An Duong and Nghi Tam villages. At the beginning of the 1980s, the incense trade appeared to fall into oblivion when a lot of households gave up and started breeding ornamental fish or running their own business. At that time, only 20% of the households kept on maintaining this trade. After 7 to 8 years, however, the incense trade was restored in the 1990s. Despite working hard, villagers have low income. However, they still keep up this trade, which is traditional and suitable for them.
Making incense is a hard work which requires a lot of stages. Members in the family have to work with all their might. Each of them is assigned a duty, from simple to complicated one. Old people and children are responsible for simple tasks, such as whittling sticks, drying incense, collecting and packaging the finished products.
The most difficult and complicated stage is mixing incense sawdust with some other materials like anise, cinnamon and etc. only skilful and experienced people take charge of this task. If not properly mingled, the incense won’t be fragrant./.