People who’ve drank draught beer in Vietnam, at least once before, probably remember the cheap blueish jorums with a lot of residual foam inside. These glasses have been with draught beer on daily basis, ever since we had to buy beer using food stamps. Nowadays, we can drink whole kegs without having to wait.
About a hundred kilometers in the South of Nam Dinh province, there is a traditional glasswork village named Xoi Tri (Nam Thanh commune). It’s where these cheap blueish glasses were created by the hands of talented craftsmen.
To make these jorums, people heat the recycled shards in a fire for about six hours before they remove the molten substance with a long pipe. The pipe is used to blow the glass into its proper shape. The glass is then fed into a steel mould to achieve its correct shape. Once complete, the hot cups are buried under a pile of ash to help them cool slowly; if the glasses cool down too fast, they’ll shatter.
The process to create these bluish glasses is quite simple. It mainly relies on the strength and techniques of the makers. This fine craftsmanship gives each batch of glasses their unique beauty; with different distribution of foam, tones of color, and heights so no two glasses are exactly the same.
Here, both furnace owners and their apprentices break sweat for 10 hours each day in two shifts. Back in the day, the people in Xoi Tri made different kinds of glassware such as light bulbs, bottles, vases, etc. Life was relatively good. However, the golden era of glasswork came to an end. Chinese glassware has become cheaper; their variety greater and has taken over the market. The only thing the villagers can do to preserve their crafts is to make these rough-looking and cheap beer glasses. Xoi Tri nowadays goes from being a renowned glassware village to only having three families who still maintain the production of these “specialized” glasses. Furthermore, they only work for orders from Hanoi.
Every day, a workshop makes 1,500 glasses on average. Currently, the Gam Cau wholesale market (in Hanoi) is known to be the only place that still sees these glasses being distributed throughout Hanoi at the price of around 10.000 dong/glass (40 cent).
Each day, these glasses are transported into the capital city of Hanoi, where draught beer has become a die-hard habit for many people. Thousands of glasses from Xoi Tri bring the craftsmen here faith in their crafts so that they can continue to stick to their jobs, making their ends meet still.
Take a tour of Vietnam with More Fun Travel and experience the jorums for yourself!