- 1 History of Bat Trang Pottery Village
- 2 Bat Trang Pottery Village’s Products
- 3 Traditional Process of Producing Bat Trang Pottery
- 4 Today’s Updates About Bat Trang Pottery Village
- 5 How to Reach Bat Trang Pottery Village?
- 6 Discover the Best Experiences in Bat Trang Pottery Village
- 7 Cost of Admission to Bat Trang Pottery Village
The complete travel guide helps you to discover why Bat Trang Pottery Village is a must-see in Hanoi culture trips.
Located on Red River bank, Gia Lam District, at about 14km from Hanoi City center, lies the enchanting Bat Trang pottery village. This picturesque commune encompasses two traditional craft villages, Giang Cao and Bat Trang, each steeped in a rich history of craftsmanship.
History of Bat Trang Pottery Village
Legend has it that during the Ly dynasty‘s shift of the capital from Hoa Lu to Dai La, renamed Thang Long, craftsmen from Vinh Ninh Trang, Bo Xuyen, and Bach Bat (Thanh Hoa – Ninh Binh) migrated to Bach Tho Phuong, following royal authorization. Here, they established furnaces and villages, dedicating their skills to producing pottery and bricks for the feudal state. Over generations, the appellation “Bach Tho Phuong” evolved into the renowned Bat Trang pottery village we know today.
Families in Bat Trang proudly trace their roots back to the origins of pottery craft, as recorded in Tran Dong Cuc family’s genealogy. The narrative reveals that the Tran family’s forebears were among the twelve craftsmen summoned by the king to Bach Tho Phuong for the production of sarcophagus bricks in the imperial capital. This migration and settlement in the new hometown occurred over centuries, notably during the Tran, Le, and Revival Le dynasties.
The Bat Trang communal house serves as a living testament to this historical journey, adorned with 44 ordained titles from Vietnam’s feudal dynasties. Here, the village’s tutelary god and various couplets echo the evolving craft.
Remarkably, the communal house venerates the supreme deity, Bach Ma Dai Vuong, the guardian god of Thang Long citadel worshiped at Bach Ma Temple (Hang Buom). This deity holds a prominent place among the four defending temples of Thang Long – Hanoi.
The village’s name, Bat Trang, found its place in history during the fourteenth century, chronicled in the book “Complete history of Dai Viet”. It attests to the village’s enduring legacy, renowned for its pottery craftsmanship. The village’s academic and cultural prowess is equally celebrated, with ancient records revealing 364 individuals from Bat Trang who successfully passed the Confucian exams of the feudal state, including eight doctoral degree holders.
Today, Bat Trang pottery village continues to captivate visitors with its well-preserved relics of communal houses, temples, pagodas, and literary documents. The harmonious blend of architectural wonders, exquisite ceramic products, and the warm hospitality of Bat Trang’s inhabitants ensures an unforgettable and beautiful experience for domestic and international tourists exploring this historic craft village.
Bat Trang Pottery Village’s Products
Bat Trang bricks stand out with their distinctive size and color reminiscent of chicken liver, setting them apart from those of any other craft village in the country. Renowned for their fire resistance, these bricks undergo multiple baking processes, ensuring a long lifespan and resistance to moss formation when used in construction.
The legacy of Bat Trang bricks extends to prominent architectural marvels such as Thang Long Citadel, Van Mieu Quoc Tu Giam, communal houses, temples, pagodas, shrines, lakes, and wells across Vietnamese villages. Notably, they are prevalent in the imperial city of Hue and the tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty.
In the early 19th century, during the construction of Hue Citadel (1805-1832) and the royal tombs, the Nguyen Dynasty enlisted the people of Bat Trang village to manufacture bricks. In recognition of their contributions, King Tu Duc (1847-1883) bestowed the four words ” Filial piety – Righteousness – Class – Merit” currently displayed at the village communal house, as a token of gratitude.
In addition to Bat Trang bricks, the village is renowned for its pottery, recognized both nationally and globally. The pottery-making process involves meticulous stages, including soil selection, soil mix processing, shaping, pattern creation, enameling, and final baking. Bat Trang potters view their craft as a life-giving experience, embodying the philosophy: “The first is the bone, the second is the skin, the third is the furnace”. This perspective perceives pottery artifacts as living bodies and miniature universes, harmoniously incorporating the Five Elements – Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth.
Clay serves as the primary raw material for ceramic production, and while Bat Trang once had a white clay mine, its depletion in the 18th century prompted the villagers to seek new sources in northern provinces. The treatment of soil involves a traditional method, employing a four-tank system for water immersion. This intricate process, including the “Kneading tank,” “Settling tank,” “Drying tank,” and “Composting tank,” spans several months, ensuring the clay reaches optimal consistency. Depending on the pottery type, artisans may incorporate kaolin in varying quantities during the production process.
Traditional Process of Producing Bat Trang Pottery
In the traditional artistry of Bat Trang pottery, skilled artisans have long employed the age-old technique of handcrafting on turntables to shape their exquisite creations.
During the shaping process, artisans deftly utilize the method of “Stroking and Building embankments” on the turntable. The meticulously prepared clay is thrown onto the turntable after being finely crushed and rolled into a shuttle to expedite the shaping. Craftsmen then employ a technique involving patting, crushing, and pulling the soil to achieve the desired plasticity, primarily using their right hand’s two fingers. Following the manual molding and application of glazed terra-cotta, the earthenware takes form.
In response to the demands of industrial and fine arts pottery production, artisans can now replicate sample products using plaster molds for efficient mass production. These molds range from simple double-gill molds to more intricate variations, depending on the intended product’s shape. This method facilitates the simultaneous creation of identical product series swiftly and easily.
After the shaping phase, the products undergo a drying process before entering the furnace. The initially shaped items undergo an “incubation” period, where they are meticulously repaired, cut, assembled with additional parts (such as taps and straps), holes drilled, patterns refined, and surfaces polished for a smooth finish.
Subsequently, Bat Trang pottery village’s artisans utilize brushes to directly draw on the rustic textures, harmonizing with the ceramic form and transforming the products into works of art. Various decorative techniques, such as threading, creating enamel, coloring enamel, or applying pre-printed patterns through steaming, contribute to the aesthetic appeal.
A unique stage in Bat Trang pottery is the enamel coating, featuring the distinctive ash enamel. Originating in the fifteenth century, Bat Trang potters developed a renowned blue enamel, later incorporating quick lime, rice husk ash, and light pink kaolin to create a novel cracked enamel in the seventeenth century. Enameling tactics range from spraying and pouring enamel onto surfaces to dipping enamel for smaller products. The most common method is “gripping enamel,” with the most challenging being “rotating enamel” and “casting enamel” – techniques passed down through generations as closely guarded secrets.
The final stage is the firing of the furnace, a crucial determinant of the pottery’s success. Furnace kindling is a sacred moment, with artisans lighting incense sticks and offering prayers to heaven, earth, and the god of fire. Modern furnaces, such as shuttle and tunnel furnaces using gas or oil, have replaced ancient ones, reducing fuel consumption and environmental impact. Mastering the temperature control during the firing process is key to success.
Following the firing, the cooling process lasts two days and nights before artisans carefully inspect and repair defects over an additional day and night. Bat Trang pottery boasts a rich array of designs and types, categorized based on their functions. Whether serving as worship objects or household items, each piece reflects the meticulous craftsmanship, historical techniques, and artistic traditions that make Bat Trang pottery a cherished cultural heritage. Displayed in museums globally and sought after by collectors, the ancient pottery series holds significant value in the market.
Today’s Updates About Bat Trang Pottery Village
Honoring the legacy of generations of skilled artisans, Bat Trang commune boasts a rich tradition of crafting exquisite handmade ceramics. In the bygone era of French Indochina, the distinction of “Indochinese artisan” was bestowed upon a select group of five individuals. Today, Bat Trang proudly hosts 18 accomplished artisans, among them the youngest, Mr. Pham Anh Dao. Recognized by the City People’s Committee as “Hanoi Artisan,” Mr. Dao and his family represent two generations dedicated to their craft.
A notable figure in Bat Trang is artisan Tran Do, the 18th generation of the Tran family, renowned for their mastery of pottery. Revered as the alchemist of Earth, Water, and Fire—the fundamental elements in the art of pottery—Tran Do is hailed as the monarch of pottery enamel, possessing a unique talent for preserving ancient souls.
The enduring legacy of traditional craft villages has propelled Bat Trang pottery village to new heights. Today, it stands as a testament to centuries of continuous development. The excellence of Bat Trang ceramics has not only captivated the domestic market but has also found its way to international shores, gracing Europe, the Americas, Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan.
The Bat Trang pottery village boasts over 50 companies and 750 households, with 2,900 residents, of which 90% are actively involved in ceramic production and trade. Some enterprises achieve an impressive annual export revenue of up to 1 million USD, attesting to the global appeal and economic significance of Bat Trang’s time-honored craft.
How to Reach Bat Trang Pottery Village?
Nestled along the scenic banks of the Red River in Gia Lam District, Hanoi, Bat Trang Pottery Village is easily accessible from the city center, a mere 14 kilometers away. Transport options abound, catering to various preferences and budgets.
Public Transportation – Bus:
For an economical and hassle-free journey, public buses are the preferred choice. Identify the most convenient route from your location to Long Bien Transit Point on Tran Nhat Duat Street. Board bus no. 47A, destined for Bat Trang Ceramic Village Hanoi. The bus will efficiently drop you at the entrance of the village. The bus ride takes approximately 30 to 40 minutes, with tickets priced at a mere 7,000 VND.
Personal Transportation – Motorbike:
For those who relish the freedom of exploration, traveling by motorbike proves to be a swift and adventurous option. The 20 to 30-minute ride from Hanoi city center to Bat Trang Pottery Village is a delightful journey. After crossing Long Bien Bridge or Chuong Duong Bridge, follow the riverside road, and you’ll seamlessly arrive at Bat Trang Vietnam. Consult Google Maps or heed the signposts for a trouble-free route.
Opting for a taxi is a convenient and comfortable choice. Arrange a taxi through your hotel reception or book one independently. This option provides a stress-free and direct ride to Bat Trang Village.
Shuttle Bus – Bat Trang Village Tours:
Simplify your travel by booking a Bat Trang Pottery Village tour with a reputable operator or agency. With transportation already included in the tour package, you’ll be picked up directly from your hotel. This hassle-free option ensures a seamless and enjoyable experience, allowing you to focus solely on the wonders of Bat Trang.
Referrence: Indochina Charm Travel Co.,Ltd – Professional Vietnam tour operator.
Discover the Best Experiences in Bat Trang Pottery Village
Uncover the charm of Bat Trang Pottery Village with a myriad of captivating activities suitable for every traveler. Immerse yourself in the rich heritage of this ancient craft village by exploring the top five must-do experiences:
Stroll through Bat Trang Ancient Village
Embark on a leisurely stroll through the enchanting Bat Trang Ancient Village. Absorb the unique architecture and tranquility of this traditional craft village as you traverse its paths, perhaps opting for a buffalo-drawn cart ride for an even more immersive experience. Make sure to venture to the far end of the village to visit the Van Van ancient house, a 200-year-old architectural masterpiece. Marvel at its splendid design and explore an impressive collection of 15th-century ceramic artifacts, including vases and pots. The antique house welcomes visitors daily from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm.
Participate in Pottery-Making
Engage in a hands-on pottery-making experience, a quintessential activity in Bat Trang. For a nominal fee of 35,000 – 50,000 VND, unleash your creativity with a pottery turntable and a lump of wet clay. Shape and mold the clay into your desired form, seeking assistance from skilled artisans if needed. After a brief drying period, adorn your creation with vibrant colors and a protective sheen, resulting in a unique and durable ceramic masterpiece.
Explore Bat Trang Pottery Market
Indulge in a shopping spree at the expansive Bat Trang Pottery Market, spanning approximately 6,000 square meters. Wander through small stalls offering an extensive array of exquisite ceramic items, from everyday household goods to intricate ornaments and delicate pottery. This market is the ideal destination to purchase sophisticated ceramic products at prices considerably more affordable than those in Hanoi’s downtown shops.
Visit Bat Trang Pottery Museum
Delve into the cultural and historical treasures of Bat Trang Pottery Village by visiting the Bat Trang Pottery Museum, an integral part of the Centre for the Quintessence of Vietnamese Craft Villages. Marvel at the extraordinary architecture of the seven funnel-shaped buildings adorned with intricate carvings, inspired by the signature tool of ceramic artisans – the pottery turntable. Explore the museum’s extensive collection of valuable and artistic ceramic items, showcasing the enduring history of Bat Trang Pottery Village.
Savor Squid Soup with Bamboo Shoots
While Bat Trang Pottery Village is renowned for its ceramic artistry, it also offers delectable traditional dishes. Treat your taste buds to the exquisite squid soup with bamboo shoots – a dish once favored by royalty. This flavorful culinary experience features dried squid and bamboo shoots in a chicken broth, complemented by dried shrimp and other ingredients for a naturally sweet taste. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor this culinary gem during your visit to Bat Trang.
Cost of Admission to Bat Trang Pottery Village
Embark on a captivating journey through Hanoi by exploring the enchanting Bat Trang Pottery Village, a treasure trove of Vietnamese ceramic artistry. Entrance to this historic village is complimentary; however, please be aware that there are additional charges for various activities, including those mentioned above.