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Last updated: Monday, October 15, 2018

 

Bau Truc Ceramic Art: Distinctive Cham Culture

Posted: Monday, August 06, 2018


Bau Truc Pottery Village is considered one of the oldest pottery-making villages in Southeast Asia. The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism recently agreed with the proposal of the Ninh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee on documenting Cham traditional ceramic arts to submit to UNESCO for inclusion in the list of world intangible cultural heritages in need of urgent safeguarding.

Mr Ho Anh Tuan, a collector of Cham antiques from Da Nang City, said “All ancient Cham artefacts have soul. They not only have fine sculptural artistry but also carry a mysterious unexplained civilisation.”

Bau Truc ceramic works not only help the economic and social development and improve people’s life quality, but also express culture, art, customs and life of a group or a community in a certain time.

According to legends, Bau Truc Pottery Village in Phuoc Dan Town, Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province, was founded more than 1,000 years ago by Poklong Chanh. To date, to pay tribute to the founder, Bau Truc villagers built a memorial temple to worship him during the annual Kate Festival which falls on late September or October.

Bau Truc pottery is typical of handmade and fine artistry. To make a complete ceramic item, artisans must go through six steps, including soil selection, moulding/shaping, ceramic refining, decorative patterning, perfecting and burning. Material to make Bau Truc pottery is also one of the factors that make a difference. Highly adhesive clay is taken from the Quao River and mixed with sand with different formulas to make different products. Moreover, during the soil mixing process, artisans only use the hand grinding table instead of wood or stone grinding tables as in other places, so the ceramic structure is not tight, there are tiny holes on highly water-permeable ceramics.

Pottery making techniques are sophisticated. While pottery craftsmen in other villages use turntables to shape products, Bau Truc villagers use their own skilful hands to make their distinctive masterpieces, no identical items at all. Therefore, only highly skilled artisans can make sophisticated items.

Another unique characteristic of Bau Truc pottery is decoration. Decorative patterns are simple, light and familiar. Popular patterns are rivers, dots and plants. Notably, ceramic products are fired at temperatures of 500 - 6,000 degree Celsius in six hours, then taken out to make colour, and baked for two more hours. The colour additives are extracted from local fruits.

In 2017, Bau Truc Pottery Village received the Certificate of “Traditional ceramic arts of Cham people in Bau Truc Village” and added to the National Intangible Cultural Heritages.

Today, in addition to traditional products, Bau Truc Pottery Village creates some new items such as pots, vases and lanterns of different shapes and sizes. To date, Bau Truc pottery products are mainly used by Cham people or purchased by tourists. Hence, this pottery has not brought in high economic value for the maker. Local governments and concerned agencies have put forward some strategies to preserve and promote this trade village.

Recently, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism agreed with the proposal of the Ninh Thuan Provincial People’s Committee on documenting Cham traditional ceramic arts to submit to UNESCO for inclusion in the list of world intangible cultural heritages in need of urgent safeguarding. The official recognition of Bau Truc pottery as an intangible cultural heritage of the world will help introduce the unique artistic features of Bau Truc Village to the world, especially researchers, collectors or those who love ceramic arts. At the same time, this is also an indirect way to introduce the images of Vietnam, Cham people and Ninh Thuan province to the world to attract more tourists to Ninh Thuan and to Bau Truc, thus helping develop tourism, promote economic development and improve quality of life.

Giang Tu








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