Dong Ky, a traditional wood carving village, is located in Dong Quang commune, Tien Son district, Bac Ninh province, about 25km from Hanoi. Legend has it that under the reign of the fourth Hung King, Cuong Cong, a native of Dong Ky, put down a rebellion against the king. Cuong Cong had recruited soldiers from his home village, dividing them into four wings commanded by four generals. Before going into battle, he had a feast for his army and set off firecrackers to encourage them. From that time on, Dong Ky villagers praised him as their tutelary deity.
Every year, they hold a festival on the 4th day of the first lunar month to commemorate his victory. On the Lunar New Year’s Eve, villagers choose four old men and the latter put on red garments to represent the four generals. The four generals are taken to the communal house where they sit talking, drinking tea and smoking tobacco. At midnight, they must compete with each other to hold the Thai Bach pillar, the heaviest pillar in the communal house.
A special ritual of the Dong Ky festival used to be the setting-off of huge firecrackers and long strings of small firecrackers, but since the government outlawed firecrackers for safety reasons, this traditional practice has no longer been part of the festival. The Dong Ky firecracker festival may be a vestige of traditional agricultural rituals. There are also other games during the festival, such as blind man’s bluff, catching eels from a big water jar, and a boat race.
At Dong Ky, visitors will be surprised at the beauty, quality and sophistication of the furniture made by “golden hands” of skilled craftsmen here. It would be a pity if tourists leave this village without buying some handcrafted furniture custom-made here.