According to legend, lacquer wares in Cat Dang village have been in existence since the 11th century. Ngo Dung and Dinh Ba, who were mandarins under the Dinh dynasty, documented this fact.
Similar to other craft villages, Cat Dang, maker of lacquer ware, has passed through a number of ups and downs. During the most difficult periods, the talent and creativity of Cat Dang villagers continued shining – lacquer ware of wood material was replaced by lacquer ware of pressed bamboo, resulting in a lighter, cheaper, and better quality product. They have attracted many customers and been exported to many countries.
It is not easy to make such “illustrious” pressed bamboo wares. Villagers have to select the right neohouzeaura (a kind of bamboo) not too young, nor too old; then the material must be soaked in water at least six months to prevent insects and for durability. Then the material is split, splints are polished and bent into requested styles, and marble powder and glue are spread to ensure no gaps between splints. Next is a drying process, then grinding for a suitable thickness and a smooth surface.
Product decoration is an art of a superb implementation, a painting art for creating vignettes or various decorative colors. The main material for painting is polyurethane with some production units using natural paints such as Vietnamese lacquer or cashew nut as well. According to master craftsmen in the village, paint preparation and spraying are the most difficult stages. Secrets of the trade are maintained in these stages. Many apprentices from other regions come to Cat Dang but the results of their painting technique aren’t comparable with those of Cat Dang villagers. Notably, Cat Dang villagers have a secret treatment to preclude deterioration because of rain; their coats of paint will not fade while others must wait for the sun to re-paint. Many master craftsmen of Cat Dang village have opened vocational training in different regions, and they are famous throughout as the supreme talents of Cat Dang village.