Roaring trade for gold-plated tigers this Lunar New Year

Status symbol: A woman holding a gold-plated tiger model in Hanoi ahead of the Lunar New Year, which will celebrate the Year of the Tiger. — AFP

VIETNAMESE are paying hundreds of dollars for gold-plated tiger models as gifts as the Lunar New Year draws near, bucking a major economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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

With the year of the tiger starting on Feb 1, many are choosing pricy models of the striped felines.

Thousands of 24-carat gold-plated tigers are hitting high-end souvenir shops in Hanoi, selling for US$300 (RM1,255) to US$3,000 (RM12,550).“The gold-plated tiger model will bring me the feeling of being in a higher class,” said architect Pham Quang Duc, who bought a winged tiger model for home decoration.

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

“The tiger in my design not only shows its ferocity but also the power, the aim of striving forward and conquering,” artisan Vu Dung said of his tiger with eagle wings.

“Possessing a gold-plated tiger model would mean its owner is in the high class in society and successful economically.”

It takes days of detailed work for artisans to make the sparkling gold-plated figurines.

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

“We have to ensure the gold-plating layer is spread evenly on the model,” worker Lai Huy Nam said.

“The tiger with wings model shows my hope for my works to take off in the new year.” — AFP

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