BackHeritage » Vietnam » [Photos] Once Upon a Time in Bát Tràng Ceramic Village

[Photos] Once Upon a Time in Bát Tràng Ceramic Village

Back in the day, when Emperor Lý Thái Tổ relocated the capital from Ninh Binh to Hanoi, five famous pottery families followed. They settled in a region on the east bank of the Red River where there was good clay, and founded the Bat Trang ceramic village.

Today, more than 1,000 years later, the word ceramic is still synonymous with Bat Trang, which is a testament to the superb quality of the products there. Though the process may have changed somewhat throughout the years, the core principles remain the same. Bat Trang artisans still undertake their craft following the old adage: "Nhất xương, nhì da, thứ ba dạc lò" (First the bone, second the skin, third the furnace).

During the summers of 1991–1993, German photographer Hans Peter Grumpe came to Vietnam and visited Bat Trang village. His photos show the pottery process in vivid detail, depicting a nostalgic time when the creation of earthen wares was a purely hands-on process.

From the banks of the Red River.

Using molds to shape the "bones" of the ceramic pieces.

Unprocessed "bones."

Artisans paint every vase by hand.

Each prototype is meticulously given a layer of "skin."

Inside the painting workshop.

Vase-decorating is a social occasion.

Each vase could take hours to be painted.

Out to dry.

Preparing burning materials for the ovens.

Workshops huddling close to one another on the river bank.

[Photos by Hans Peter Grumpe via his website

Related Articles

in Vietnam

Hanoi Demolishes Colonial-Era Factory to Make Room for Office Complex

A French-built factory at 61 Trần Phú, Hanoi is being destroyed to make way for a multi-purpose building.   

in Music & Arts

Marvel at These Ceramic Boots Created by Legendary Bát Tràng Artisan Vũ Đức Thắng

"The Bát Tràng Ceramic Boots. An Inspiration from Italy" exhibition will feature 12 ceramic boots created by artisan Vũ Đức Thắng, who blended Italian fashion and Bát Tràng craft traditions.

in Vietnam

[Photos] A Journey Back in Time Through Northern Vietnam Around 1900

Vietnam is certainly a country looking to the future, but sometimes it's worth looking back at the past as well.

Khoi Pham

in Music & Arts

A Halcyon Hanoi in the Art of Joseph Inguimberty, the Professor Who Taught Lê Phổ

In 1925, Joseph Inguimberty stepped into the tropical humidity of Hanoi for the first time. Despite having been to Italy, Greece and even Egypt, the 29-year-old art professor probably couldn’t imagine...

in Culture

An Exploration of H'Mông Fashion Through the Eyes of a Young H'Mông Curator

Combining elements of the traditional and the modern, Hnubflower and her collaborators have brought to life a project to recreate the fashion of many H’Mông communities in provinces across Vietnam.

in Vietnam

Chợ Âm Phủ and the Embattled History Behind Hanoi's Book Street

19/12 Street was once a mass burial ground for those who died in the National Resistance against France in 1946. The event shaped the history of the city and the relationship that thrived for 71 years...

Partner Content