Vietnam’s Bat Trang Ceramic Village History

Bat Trang Ceramic Village History

If you go to Hanoi, one place to visit is the Bat Trang ceramic village. The Bat Trang ceramic village has manufactured ceramics for many centuries.

The Bat Trang Ceramic Village in Vietnam has been producing ceramics consistently for over 1,000 years. Even during the Chinese or French rule of Vietnam, the Bat Trang Ceramic village never stopped its pottery or ceramic manufacturing. During the Vietnam-American war, many American bombs were dropped on the Bat Trang ceramic village but they still continued to manufacture pottery and ceramic products.

Today, the Bat Trang Ceramic village continues to be the main location for the manufacturing of pottery and ceramics in Vietnam.

A Brief History of Vietnamese Ceramics

The Bat Trang ceramic village is an area about 16 Kilometers (10 miles) south of Hanoi. This area was designated for Vietnamese ceramic production over a thousand years. In 1010, the Vietnamese King Ly Thai decided to move the capital of Vietnam to Thang Long or present-day Hanoi.

The King’s new northern capital city needed the tradesmen, merchants, and craftsmen to come with him. One group of craftsmen that came were the ceramic or pottery producers.

These ceramic and pottery producers needed to find an area where they could find the materials to produce their ceramic or pottery wares, and still be able to reach the new capital city of Thang Long or present-day Hanoi to sell their goods. They settled on a stretch of land about 13 kilometers or about 10 miles south of Hanoi but on the other side of the Red River from present-day Hanoi.

They picked this spot because the area had a lot of white clay that they could use for their pottery and ceramic production and it was also located on the red river so they had access to the water in the river. The present-day location of the Bat Trang ceramic village is in the exact same spot that the pottery makers choose over a 1,000 years ago.

Hand Producing Ceramics in Bat Trang Vietnam
Hand Producing Ceramics in Bat Trang Vietnam

Chinese Rule and Ceramics in Bat Trang, Vietnam

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China ruled Vietnam off and on for over 1,000 years. In the 15th and 16th century the Ming Dynasty of China ruled over the Mac Dynasty of Vietnam. During this period there was an open door policy for trade that ensured that many of the goods produced in the Bat Trang ceramic village could be sold and traded within the country.

This open-door policy also no doubt helped to ensure that some of the Chinese ceramic craftsmen came down to Vietnam. These Chinese craftsmen helped influence Vietnamese ceramic production. This is why even today, some of the pottery styles you see being produced in the Bat Trang ceramic village may have Chinese characteristics and designs, but with a Vietnamese flare.

Western Influences and Ceramics in Bat Trang, Vietnam

In the 16th and 17th Centuries, European ships started to sail around the world looking for wares and products they could trade and sell in Europe. Ceramics and pottery became one of those important commodities.

Hanoi became the center where products were traded included pottery and ceramics. One of the great advantages of the Bat Trang ceramic village was the close proximity to the Thang Long Citadel and Ta Hien Street in the present-day downtown old quarters of Hanoi. In this area merchants from all over the world came to purchase Vietnamese pottery.

French Rule and Ceramics in Bat Trang, Vietnam

The French ruled Vietnam for many decades (1858 -1954). At this time. Vietnam was part of French Indochine.

During the French rule of Vietnam, the captial remained as Hanoi. The Bat Trang ceramic village also continued to be the main pottery center of Vietnam.

But like with any new rulers the French also brought with them some of the looks and designs they wanted to have for their pottery and ceramics. The Bat Trang ceramic village once again showed that it could adapt to life under a new system and ruler.

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Unloading the kiln in Bat Trang, Vietnam
Unloading the kiln in Bat Trang, Vietnam

The War Years And The Bat Trang Ceramic Village.

During the Vietnam- American War (1964 to 1973) American planes dropped over 260 million cluster bombs on North Vietnam and Laos. These America bombs were not dropped in downtown Hanoi, but mainly in the surrounding areas outside the center of Hanoi, including the Bat Trang ceramic village.

In speaking to some Vietnamese who lived in Bat Trang during this time, many said they received intelligence of when the American bombs were coming to bomb their village. They would leave the village, wait for the bombs to drop and then come back and rebuild their homes and ceramic factories again.

Even though so many bombs were being dropped on the Bat Trang ceramic village, during the Vietnam-American war, the ceramic village of Bat Trang continued to manufacture pottery and ceramics, throughout these war years.

The Bat Trang Ceramic Village Today

Today the Bat Trang ceramic village continues to be a thriving ceramic manufacturing village with most households in the village involved in the manufacturing of pottery or ceramics. Many of these same households have been producing ceramics for 800 or 600 years without stopping production.

The trade secrets of their production, designs, and processes are passed down from generation-to-generation. The Bat Trang ceramic village has a lot of skills in ceramic production that other places in the world do not have.

Another interesting cultural phenomenon to understand the Bat Trang ceramic village is that until about 20 years ago about 90% of all the people in the village would marry someone from the village. This means that many of the factories are somehow related to each other so they will work and cooperate together for orders and know-how.

Conclusion

The Bat Trang Ceramic Villages is one of the cultural villages in Vietnam that continues to manufacture pottery and ceramic products as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. The pottery and ceramics produced in Bat Trang are produced for the local market and for export markets.

If you are interested in producing any ceramics or pottery in Vietnam, please do feel free to contact us at Mondoro by clicking here. We would be happy to help you with your creating, developing, and manufacturing needs for pottery and ceramic production.

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Anita Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Hummel. I am the President of Mondoro. I am passionate about helping you CREATE, DEVELOP, and MANUFACTURE home decor and home furnishing products. I am also an avid blogger with a love of travel and riding my motorcycle around the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam.

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