Who: The pottery makers of Bat Trang village
Where: Bat Trang, Hanoi, Vietnam
The village of Bat Trang, Vietnam, may feel like a small town, but don’t let its size fool you: its small workshops pack a serious pottery punch. We've explored the village itself, and looked at the process used to create its wares.
Let’s take a closer look at the beautiful handcrafted ceramics themselves made by Bat Trang’s expert potters. You may recognize something you own!
A Small Village with a Global Market
Bat Trang village’s expert ceramic makers export their products globally; I saw products branded for IKEA and Target in the market. Orders come in from Europe, the United States, Australia, and throughout Asia for Bat Trang’s tea sets, dishes, and vases.
Unique Styles from Different Households
There’s a huge range of shapes, colors, designs, and sizes of pottery available in Bat Trang, partly because each household has its own technique for making pottery. Depending on the timing and materials used, potters can create different shapes of pottery from the exact same mold. But there are still some themes in the designs traced on the ceramics once they’ve been shaped.
Many designs are traditional. There’s a detailed blue flower pattern, shown below, that potters have used for decades. Dragonflies tend to appeal to Japanese and Korean customers, as well as Vietnamese. Lotus and bamboo are symbols of Vietnam. Darker-glazed pottery in browns, blacks, and reds sell well to foreigners. And some patterns, well, they just like to draw!
Traditional Craft & A Modern Success Story
Many small villages in Vietnam have been historically devoted to making one craft, but Bat Trang is also a modern success story. The quality and tradition that shows in Bat Trang pottery has made it a fixture in homes in Hanoi and throughout Vietnam. Good roads to the town, media attention, and the hospitality of the people help keep tourists coming.
All this means that Bat Trang’s makers have a stable market and don’t leave their traditional work for more lucrative, steady income—and that’s not always the case in other craft villages.
Thanks, Bat Trang village potters and Thu Duong for your translation help!
(Image credits: Lisa Pepin)