Pham Van Huong is a particularly resourceful 71-year-old farmer in Vietnam. A few decades ago, he got an idea: wouldn’t it be cool if he could breed pearls in mussels in specific shapes?
Well, it took him 25 years of experimenting, with lots of failures, but he finally figured out how to do it.
Behold, a pearl image of Jesus bred inside a mussel:
Jesus it the one in the top-middle. You’ll notice that Huong also makes buddhist pearl images.
So how does he do it?
Huong was trying various techniques to make traditional round pearls, but without success. “I was about to quit,” he says, “when I accidentally discovered a pearl-covered nail in a mussel. Since then, I rushed to explore and find ways to create pearls.”
He then dedicated a little pond on his property to mussels and started buying as many as he could to experiment.
And here’s what he does: First, he cuts a small hole in the shell of the mussel. This part is pretty tough apparently: “If the shell is perforated too large,” he says, “or the perforation tears the fleshy part of the mussels, they will die instantly.” Next, he places an object with the shape he wants for his pearl in the mussel. Lastly, he covers the hole with plastic.
In then takes about 2 years for the mussel to cover the object in just the right amount of pearl. And the result is a pearl in almost any shape you want! Including an image of Jesus.
Here are some more pictures of Huong’s amazing work:
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