Bat Trang Pottery Village - Ancient Pottery Centre in Vietnam
January 14, 2017 251 Views
One particularly unique destination which will amaze all the visitors is Bat Trang Pottery Village. Located just about 10 km from the bustling city of Hanoi, foreigners usually come to Bat Trang to witness the special pottery making and enjoy the peaceful countryside in this small village on their travel to Vietnam. Together with Van Phuc Silk Village, Bat Trang is a traditional craft village that you should not miss out in your visit to Hanoi.
Things to do in Bat Trang Village
When you arrive on Bat Trang, there are many activities for you to do. First of all, you should go sightseeing to enjoy the picturesque village in the countryside of Vietnam. While you are venturing around, you will encounter a large number of ceramic stores on the way. Feel free to go shopping, take picture or touch the magnificent local products.
A Local Shop in Bat Trang
The most interesting locations will be Bat Trang Porcelain and Pottery Market. Not only there are a lot of beautiful products made by local craftsmen, but also you can make your own pottery. Here, feel free to demonstrate your skill and imagination to create a wonderful souvenir for family and friends.
Making Pottery with Local and Students
If you travel on 14th and 15th of February, according to the lunar calendar, you can join in the lively and traditional Festival in the village. The festival establishes to honor the tradition of the village and Tutelary deity who brings happiness and prosperity. Tourist will contemplate the parade carrying offerings which consisted of barbecued buffalo, six feasts and four trays of steamed sticky to Bat Trang communal house. After that, there will be many games and activities in the festival, including human chess, cock fighting, and traditional music.
A Parade to Communal House
The Art of Making Pottery in Bat Trang Village
The process of making pottery has passed down from generation to generation and continued to be developed. Bat Trang artisans believe that each pottery is a little universe based on the harmony of Wu Xing, or Five Elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water). There are 3 steps to follow before we have a complete product: making product frame, decorating and drawing pattern, and last but not least, baking.
In the first step, the craftsmen must choose suitable clay. In the past, they often took clay in the village, but ever since the source exhausted, villagers had to find clay from other places. Then, makers have to treat the clay from other chemical substances. The traditional way is to put the clay into 4 tanks with 4 different heights. In the first tank, clay is soaked in water for 3-4 months before stirring to mix with water. After that, artisans will open the second tank in which clay substance goes through to remove other unnecessary substances. In the third tank, the clay will be left to dry in a few days before putting in the fourth tank to remove the remaining useless substances from the clay by fermenting.
An Artisan Making Frame
Afterward, when craftsmen have appropriate clay, they will begin to make the frame of the product which traditionally be done by the women. Today, villagers use molds to mass product easily and fast.
The second step involves the skill and creativity of the maker to decorate the pottery. There are various drawing techniques, but depends on the frame and purposes of the products. Then, the pottery will process through a product called enamel coating and some people consider their methods to be family’s secret.
Drawing Beautiful Decoration
Finally, artisans will start baking the products which is the most important step of all. According to tradition, the oldest of the craftsmen prayed to fire god for blessing as controlling the heat is the key to success. After that significant process, the product is checked for the last time.
Pottery in Bat Trang Village varies, however, they are often divided into 3 groups. The first one is utilitarian ware such as teacups, vases, jars, plates. The next one is cult ware consisting of candle holders, altar boxes, incense burners and so on. There are also decorations including house models, statues of animals and deity.
Various Products in Bat Trang Shop
Bat Trang Village in the Flow of History
A thousand years ago, when King Ly Thai To decided to change the capital from Hoa Lu, merchants, and artisans from all over the country poured in Thang Long (Hanoi). Among them, 5 families who were well-known for making pottery decided to settle in the new capital. They found an abundant source of good clay in Bach Tho Ward (literally White Clay Ward) resulted in the families merged together to create Bat Trang traditional handicraft village. After that, more craftsmen came and Bat Trang turned into the pottery center of the country which provided tributes to China Dynasty.
Pottery Market in the Past
The 15th to the 17th century had been the golden age of the Bat Trang pottery village since the trading thrived not only in domestic market but also in foreign one. The policies of the Minh Dynasty (China) forbade all foreign trade in the country which allowed Vietnamese products to expand in South East Asia market. Another reason is that Western company began to trade in Vietnam and shipped the products to South East Asia countries and Japan.
However, the Golden Age did not last forever as China had changed their policies and Bat Trang pottery could no longer compete with Chinese ones for the next few centuries. More importantly, Vietnamese Dynasty limited the foreign trade and some Western companies joined in the market. Despite that, Bat Trang remained the pottery center in the country.
Ancient Pot from 19th Century
Over time, the businesses had started to recover and today Bat Trang pottery is flourishing with a wide variety of products. As a result, Bat Trang products are presented in many countries in Asia and Europe.
How to travel to Bat Trang
Bat Trang is really close to Hanoi so you can travel easily by various methods. If you want to travel on your own, bicycling and riding motorbike are two exciting choices because you will venture through the dynamic city, cross Long Bien Bridge or Chuong Duong Bridge where you can see the Red Delta River and then meet the poetic countryside in Hanoi. Other Choices include travel by bus; taxi or cruise. The time you spend on bus depend on where you stay in Hanoi, but this mean of transportation is clean and economical. Taxi is faster and more convenient yet costly. Cruise is only available on tour.
- Source: Vietnam Excursions
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