Bat Trang Ceramics – The wonderful harmony between land water, fire and soul of Hanoi

It is not by accident that the name “Bat Trang Ceramic village”, a traditional craft village located 10 Kms to the South East of Ha Noi City centre, has gained. Over time, Vietnamese ceramic in general and Bat Trang ceramic in particular, have always carried their own characteristics and cannot be confused with Chinese, Japanese or European ceramics.

Starting with the same traditional ingredients (such as land, water and fire) and thanks to the talent of craftsmen and the national soul ingrained in every product, the material that could turn out to be bland has in fact its own distinction, although it is made of the same terracotta, brown glazed terracotta, porous glazed terracotta, white glazed terracotta or porcelain.

According to a Vietnamese History and Geography book written by Nguyen Trai, Bat Trang ceramic was pioneered by Ly King. When King Ly Thai To moved from Ninh Binh to the new capital Thang Long (Hanoi), 5 famous pottery producing families of Bo Bat village, Yen Mo – Truong Yen district (now in Yen Mo district, Ninh Binh province) named Tran, Vuong, Nguyen, Le, Pham decided to move to Thang Long with pottery artisans in order to establish their business. When they went to Bach Tho ward, Gia Lam-Thuan An district (now Bat Trang commune, Gia Lam district, Hanoi) where there was good white clay material to make pottery, the 5 families collaborated with a Nguyen family living there to construct pottery kilns and founded the ceramic village of Bat Trang.

To make the ceramic product of Bat Trang, the potter must go through the stages of land selection, soil treatment and soil preparation, shaping, creating patterns, enamelling and finally firing. The experience of many generation is “First the bone, second the skin, third the kiln”. This means that the pottery soil must be compacted sufficiently to ensure good firmness of products. Moreover, the enamelling technique (white, blue, brown, moss green, mosaic…) enables the making of many rich and diverse ceramic product lines. Bat Trang potters consider ceramic products as a living organism, with the harmonious combination of the five elements: Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Earth and the human spirit and creativity inside each product. All are blended together to create this special type of ceramic products – Bat Trang, with harmonious composition, elegant colors and dedicated human skills. Bat Trang products have many shapes, designs and types and are divided according to their function, such as household ceramic, artistic, for construction, decoration, etc… With love, hard work, research and innovation, Bat Trang artisans have created a varied and lively world of colorful ceramics. With more than 1,300 ceramic producing households who understand the needs of the market, Bat Trang products have to meet, not only the needs of domes- tic consumers, but also of world demanding markets as a living organism, with the continuously grown in recent years to reach exports of over USD 30 million in 2016. Consumers in Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, the European Union, the USA and Australia have rated Bat Trang ceramics very high in terms of quality, design and price. So, it is the unique harmony between earth, water, fire and soul of Hanoi that has made Bat Trang ceramics so famous and respected by Vietnamese people and international friends.

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