Vietnam’s Gold Plated New Year’s Tiger

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Hanoi (AFP) – Vietnamese are paying hundreds of dollars for gold-plated tiger models as gifts ahead of the Lunar New Year, bucking a major economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Tet, as it is known in Vietnam, is the most important holiday of the year and a time for people to give gifts to loved ones and business partners.

With the Year of the Tiger beginning on February 1, many choose expensive models of striped felines.

Thousands of 24-karat gold-plated tigers are hitting high-end Hanoi souvenir shops, selling for between $300 and $3,000.

“The gold-plated tiger model will bring me the feeling of being in a higher class,” said architect Pham Quang Duc who bought himself a winged tiger model for interior decoration.

The year of the tiger is believed to bring power and prosperity, and artisans said they try to reflect this in their work.

“The tiger in my design not only shows the ferocity of the animal, but also the power, the purpose to push forward and conquer,” craftsman Vu Dung told AFP of his design. tiger with eagle wings.

“Owning a gold-plated tiger model would mean that its owner is in the upper class of society and economically successful,” he added.

It takes days of painstaking craftsmanship to craft the sparkling gold-plated figurines.

The process requires painting, gilding and polishing the model, which often starts with clay, then ends with a copper sculpture before being plated with the precious metal.

“We have to make sure that the gold plating layer has to be evenly distributed on the model, including every crevice,” worker Lai Huy Nam told AFP in his workshop in Hanoi.

Vietnam has suffered economically from the Covid-19 pandemic, with growth hitting a 30-year low last year and more than 1.4 million jobs lost.

“The model of the tiger with wings shows my hope that my works will take off and make a breakthrough in the new year,” Duc said.

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