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Bat Trang pottery - gorgeous simplicity (May 1, 2007)

bat trang potteryBat Trang pottery earns a meritorious position in a private showcase of around 7,000 objects characterising different ethnic groups in Vietnam.

"Some people like fancy things but I am attracted by Bat Trang pottery's simplicity and I prefer things that were made for the people," said Mark S. Rapoport, a doctor from the US, who is the owner of the collection that is being exhibited at Hanoi's central Hang Bun street.

While talking to the Vietnam News Agency, Mark carefully picked up, from the collection, an ancient pottery pipe believed to date back hundreds of years.

Greatly impressed by Bat Trang pottery, Mark and his friends hold theme discussions every month at his house, during which, they speak about pottery and its value.

"Many people have fallen in love with Bat Trang pottery like Mark. Though holding differing views concerning its beauty, they share the same passion for its simplicity and historical significance," said Ha Ton Vinh, an American-Vietnamese professor from Hawaii University, who has also devoted time and energy for his own collection of Vietnamese pottery.

The secret of Bat Trang pottery's beauty is that it is made by hand. The products are also painted by hand with motifs featuring natural scenes and simple designs, like flowers, birds and animals.

"Rough and simple patterns make Bat Trang pottery different from other pottery made in other localities," reckoned Tran Do, a young artisan in Bat Trang village.

Pham Dung, a lecturer from the Ho Chi Minh City Culture University, who specialises in folk culture, explained that artisans paint pottery emotionally so their drawings are often not delicate but very emotional.

"The people who made the pottery may not have attended any art school to learn to paint, but I do like simple things as they possess a special beauty,” Mark said with his eyes still fixed on the ancient pipe decorated modestly with a flower.

"I like pottery because it is part of history. They are beautiful and have a lesson to teach," Mark underscored.

For lecturer Pham Dung, Bat Trang pottery is closely attached to the 1000-year Thang Long, former name of Hanoi.

According to history books, when King Ly Cong Uan moved from Ninh Binh province to Thang Long in the 11th century, a number of pottery makers in Ninh Binh also came along to help in the construction of Thang Long citadel.

Some of these makers became the founders of Bat Trang pottery village, around 15 km from Hanoi.

Through ups and downs of the country's history, Bat Trang pottery experienced a slowdown in the end of the 17th century before bouncing back at the beginning of the 20th century.

"Bat Trang village is one of the handicraft villages that possesses the largest number of young artisans in the country," Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Handicraft Villages’ Association Luu Duy Dan said, referring to Tran Do as an example.

Back to the conversation with Mark, he noted, "I am not an expert. But again I like the attractiveness in Bat Trang pottery… Some of the Chinese or Japanese potteries are very delicate and beautiful but it's not my taste.

Here it is also about the technology, how they do it, how they burn it and put things into the kiln. I am interested and curious about that." (VNA)

Reprinted with permission from Nhan Dan Newspaper


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