Collecting extraordinary tree-trunks is a sophisticated pleasure of artisans. Above the effort of searching, the values of original tree-trunks are the changes of dry tree-trunks weathered by wind, water and soil for hundreds of years and then passed through the skills of artisans to form a wonderful masterpiece.
Playing “original tree trunks” must have natural bonds
Following artisans of ornamental organism to Di Linh mountain, Lam Dong to find extraordinary dry tree trunks, I have a chance to talk with artisan Do Duy Dao, who is regarded as “the king of rotten trees in Di Linh”. After a hesitation, Mr. Dao truthfully shares: “In life, I guess that no one can foretell our fortune. This pleasure is also the same. Until now, I have been in collecting original dry tree trunks for nearly 15 years”.
In 1999, Dao’s family moved to Di Linh in the economic development program. At first, because of hard life, he used to go to the forest to find mushrooms and wild vegetables for their meals. One day, on the way home, he stopped by the stream to wash his face, he realized that the stump of the ancient tree, which he often leaned on, looked like the face of a quiet man. That stump in the sunset looked very extraordinary. The more he looked at it, the more passionate he was. On the following day, he brought an axe and other instruments to dig out this stump and carried home.
After two months digging, Mr. Dao had a wonderful dry stump, which was very big with a large root of 7m in length. This parashrea stellata was about 1000-1200 years old. But basing on its appearance, this might be cut a century ago. May be, due to its deep and hard root, the woodcutter could not dig it out. According to Mr. Dao, this stump was weathered by the rain, sun, wind and mud during 200 years and formed a very beautiful shape.
After many days carrying this huge tree home, Mr. Dao spent more than three months to clean, cut and make it a table with a very strance face of people. Everyone, who had a chance to witness it, heaped praise on it. After that, a Taiwanese businessman came to contemplate and insisted him selling this table at a very expensive price. “At that time, I knew that I had the natural bonds for this pleasure”, Mr. Dao shared.
Unlike artisan Do Duy Dao, Mr. Nguyen Hai Phong, who owns the small work “Vuong Long welcomes the new year”, has been with this pleasure for about 4 years. His works of dry woods are always interested by other people. When going fishing with his friends in the deep forest, following along the stream, he saw Vuong Long dry trunk floating in the water like a Komodo dragon stuck in the fishing net. With a little experience of the ornamental trees, Hai Phong knew that he cautch a precious object. According to ethnic people, it was a water syzygium cinereum. A few centuries ago, syzygium cinereum trees fulfilled this area of the Southeast. At present, this tree is nearly disappeared because of the changing weather. This tree is grown by the stream, therefore, rotten dry trunks of syzygium cinereum trees at Lam Dong, Dak Lak were found in streams and covered by muds. The weather turned these dry tree-trunks into extraordinary shapes.
Artisans said this huge water syzygium cinereum tree, which is about 1000 – 1500 years old, was cut and set in the stream for more than 100 years. Every year, the water eroded its grains to form striking veins. Some soft parts were eroded by the wind and water to leave the hard core of the trunk that cannot be destroyed by any other things. He invited two sculptors to work in 6 months for designing features for Vuong Long as his expectation.
The artistic and spiritual pleasure
At Giai Phong film studio, once talking about the late director Hong Sen, every one remembered his pleasure of collecting dry woods during his days in the forest to find the film backgrounds. He often brought beautiful dry trunks to display at the studio.
The life philosophy and the passion
What will you get if having the passion of original dry tree-trunks? When being asked this question, Mr. Hai Phong said: “Since I bumped into Vuong Long, I has been enchanted to this pleasure with a very strong passion. After many days looking at its shape, I realized that it featured the sine shape, which implied the upheavals of one’s life”.
Many original dry tree-trunks are also decorated with withered trees. Looking at its decorations, we can understand that it is like human’s wills. When we cannot overcome challenges, we may lose ourselves in life. “In addition, I also design a deep abyss and a thin bridge in the scenery of Vuong Long. This is to imply that when we overcome all challenges, we’ll reach the dragon head. It is when we find our life’s truth and reach the pinnacle”, Hai Phong explains the philosophical message hidden in original dry tree-trunks.
The king of rotten trees in Di Linh, Mr. Do Duy Dao shared: “My dry trees are not simply a work. Rotten trees are my friends, benefactors and my feeling of entertainment that I cannot describe in words”. He added: “Now, after 14 years collecting to satisfy his passion and business purposes, I always respect them as God. However, I just look for them at streams or find tree-trunks, which was dead centuries ago without damaging the green forest. I believe that trees also have spirits as human!”
The only joy of trunk collectors is meetings, where they can discuss and show others their masterpieces. This is their common happiness for the beauty, not really for the money value of their works.