Bat Trang Ceramic Village
“I wish I could marry you/ I will buy Bat Trang bricks to build our house” are the beautiful folk words honoring Bat Trang ceramic & pottery quality, the pride of northern Vietnam
Bat Trang, a small village in the north of Vietnam, is about 13 kilometers south east of Hanoi center, on the other side of Chuong Duong Bridge.
Why is its name popular to most tourists to northern Vietnam? The answer is its ever famous ceramic and pottery products of high quality. If you have known about Vietnam, you may not be surprised that Bat Trang’s vases, bowls, dishes, and many other kinds of ceramic products have been exported worldwide. Should you would like to contemplate workers making ceramic products by hand, just come here! What’s more, you can also try it yourself!
Bat Trang village is said to be established in 14th or 15th century in several documents. However, according to the villagers, the village perhaps appeared earlier. There are always two stories concerning the village origin.
One of these tells that under Ly dynasty, in 1100, when the nation was in its independence and initial growth period, there were 3 scholars who came back from their mission trip to China bringing the ceramic craft industry learned there back to Vietnam and taught the people of Bat Trang.
In the other story, in the village history dates back to the 10th century, when King Ly Cong Uan relocated the capital in Thang Long. With the establishment and development of the capital, many businessmen, crafters from many areas come to settle down here to work and trade. In Bat Trang, there was a lot of white clay, so that many potters, among who was Nguyen Ninh Trang family, came and built the kilns here.
Accordingly, Bat Trang has gradually changed from a normal ceramic and pottery village into a famous ceramic and pottery centre until now.
As time went by, the village’s products have developed and become well known for the best quality, style and glaze, both inside and outside of the nation. Many of these are now customized for aristocratic families and religious needs. Its popular foreign markets are Japan (under the brand “Kochi (Giao Chi) ware”), the Netherlands, Britain, Portugal, Southeast Asia, etc.
To produce a complete product, one must follow 3 steps.
The first step is making the product frame. The artists select the suitable clay, treat it and start making a raw product. It must be repaired to get the best appearance.
Secondly, they decorate and cover it with glazes. Last but not least, the raw products are baked in 3 days and 3 nights. There are several kinds of kiln, yet the temperature must be at 12000 or 13000.
After baking, products are brought out, classified and repaired in case there are mistakes. And now we have the perfect product.
Bat Trang products are divided into 3 kinds based on the purpose of use.
Utilitarian wares: including plates, bowls, teacups, kettles, wine bottles, flowerpots, vases, jar… What differs is that they are thicker than Chinese ones.
Worshiping wares: comprise lamp stands, candle holders, incense burner, altar boxes, swords… These are valuable for collectors because of inscription of the production years, the names of the producers and the potters.
Decorative objects: house models, altars, statues and architectural fixtures.
The special trait is the diversified decorations on the products. Thanks to a long–lasting history and development, the village’s works have been accumulated with a lot of different special designs. One more thing that makes them distinguished is the glaze, which is of high quality and a variety of colors, such as blue, brown, white, moss green, in both breaking and melting glazes.
In fact, there have appeared a number of competitors both domestically and internationally who take advantages of high technology. Yet most customers prefer the craft products that contain historical and traditional values. Hence, it is no surprise at all that Bat Trang is still found in busy days and works.
More importantly, the village is now so popular that absorbs a huge annual number of tourists to visit and buy ceramic goods.