Every single product you purchased bring a long story to tell
Since six hundreds years, Bat Trang’s potters have maintained skillful and sophisticated techniques that have enabled the on going development of its production through troubled periods of history. And it has become so famous that if you read Vietnamese history, hear folk songs or come across countryside proverbs, you cannot fail to meet with this name. Vases of the finest quality or delightful plates for home decor have brightened the homes of the aristocracy, rice bowls have held the food of farmers, and in more recent times, electricity has been transported across the country thanks to ceramic insulators produced in Bat Trang. In the area of arts and antics, Bat Trang ceramics are famous in various places in the world and are displayed in the museums of many countries including Japan, the Philippines, France, Belgium and Turkey.
According to Vietnamese annals, migrant potters from Thanh Hoa province established Bat Trang village in the middle of the 14th century. Situated on the banks of the Red River, close to the capital, Bat Trang had very favorable geographic conditions to develop its craft. The region was also gifted with kaolin reserves that are an essential material for ceramic production. Consequently, Bat Trang ceramics quickly became prosperous. In the 15th century, its finest production was selected to be offered as tribute to the Chinese Minh. The village further prospered throughout the 16th century, producing high-grade ceramic articles for the noble class as well as for the people. From then onward, Bat Trang went through many ups and downs in the following centuries, but its kilns kept burning and ceramics were still exported to Japan, East and Southeast Asian countries. Today, after orienting its production toward artistic items, Bat Trang ceramics have kept a strong foothold in international markets such as Taiwan, South Korea, Japan, German, Denmark, Belgium, France, Holland, Australia, and America.
Situated 15 kilometres away from Hanoi, Bat Trang actually covers the two hamlets of Bat Trang and Cao Giang, for a total area of 164 hectares. It currently has a population of 6,500 including some 1,300 ceramics production households that operate more than 2,000 kilns. More than 30 companies are also producing and trading ceramics in Bat Trang and the village is buzzing with activity. In 2002, the total revenue from ceramics production and trading almost reached VND500 billions, of which domestic consumption amounted for VND200 billions and export for VND300 billion. Major items for export are utilitarian articles and art ceramics.
Bat Trang ceramics are appreciated by customers from various countries for their unique shapes, motifs, enamel colours and patterns. Today’s craftsmen are successfully combining traditional production secrets and modern technology, giving to Bat Trang ceramics its high quality and specific aesthetic. They are the product of highly sophisticated technologies and are very well estimated on the international market.
Bat Trang ceramics have a unique special style dominated by five types of enamels: iron-brown, blue-and-white, ivory-white, moss green, and crackled. Moss-green enamel combined with ivory-white and brown forms new distinct styles. Designs are painted in cobalt oxide under enamel and thus have fast colour and durable shine. Pieces are fired once at high temperature and are therefore very hard, strong and evenly baked. Main raw material used is a highly heat-resistant kind of kaolin (1350oC). Because of the high firing temperature, Bat Trang ceramics are very hard and fast. All objects are hand made and shaped on turning tables.
Although Bat Trang ceramics are varied in term of types and designs, products can be divided into two major groups: (i) utilitarian items with various kinds of plates, bowls, cups, tea sets, bottle of wine with long or short necks, pots, boxes, basins, umbrella holders, etc; and (ii) art ceramics requiring high skills and techniques such as elegant flower vases, wall-decorating pictures, human statues, animals, etc. Traditional patterns such as herd boy with flute and buffalo, ethnic girls weaving or playing a musical instrument, life scenes depicting falling in love or jealousy fighting, etc, are still very popular, but bold modern designs have also appeared, turning this suburban village into a busy production centre as well as an attractive cultural name for tourists.