Bau Truc Ceramics
One of the two oldest pottery villages in Southeast Asia, Bau Truc in central Ninh Thuan province, will fall into obvion if a modern industrial ceramic company is built there. Ninh Thuan has been long famous for its old temples, original sculptures, various festivals, strange folk songs and unique dances. People in the central province are surely pround of Bau Truc Pottery Village, one of the two oldest of its kind in Southeast Asia, and a museum featuring traditional pottery of the Cham ethnic minority people.
Bau Truc is located some 10 kilometres South of Phan Rang town.The small village is home to more than 400 families, of which 85% are in the traditional pottery business. The style is said to be handed down from Po Klong Chanh, one of their ancestors from the immemorial time. Every year, local people hold days of worship and festivals to commemorate Chanh.
When walking around the village, visitors are impressed to see crafsmen and women next to their work near numerous mounds of clay, jars, pots and vessels. It is easy to realize the contrast between the local’s living standards and the tools they use to make pottery.The inhabitants have motorcycles and live in tile – roofed houses equipped with modern facilities as radios and telephones. However, the tools used to make pottery remain unchange times of Po Klong Chanh.
People in Bau Truc use their skillful hands, bamboo – made circles and shells to create priceless works. It is surprising that while the Kinh people have switched to using wheel as an indispensible tool, their Cham counterparts on the contrary still rely on talent hands and rudimentary tools.To create a pottery product, a Cham craftsman only needs an anvil, not a potter’s wheel, and other rudimentary tools and molds and then uses hands shape pieces of clay into the work he wants. With skillful manipulations and extraordinary masterpiece comes into being.
Truong Thi Nho, a craftsman in Bau Truc, says mothers often teach their daughters become skillful potters when they turn ten. Pottery made in Bau Truc has a variety such as cooking – pots, cauldrons, water jars and many others. Vases and pots have been the village’s list of products recently to meet the demands of floriculturists.
The material that plays an important role in creating real made-in-Bau Truc being pottery special clay. The clay is taken from the banks of the Quao River and is very flexible, durable when being fired.The skills needed to mix sand with the clay are also variant. The amount of sand mixed with the plastic material is dependent on what the pottery used for and the sizes. For these reasons, Bau Truc pottery is quite different from pottery elsewhere. For example, water jars made in Bau Truc are always favoured by people in dry and sunny areas because the temperature of the water in the jars is always centigrade cooler than that outside.
Dang Phan, who is the mayor of Bau Truc and the head of a pottery making household – more than 600,000 products are exported every year. He and three members of his try to work for two months to fullfill an order for some 1,000 kinds of pottery. With an average income of VND 6 –10 million per household, craftsmen and women in the village are proud of their occupation, despite the difficulties looming ahead.
However, crafsmen and women in Bau Truc will likely have to quit their traditional occupations. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has chosen Phuoc Dan of the 12 communes nationwide to carry out a rural development program in accordance with industrialization and modernization era. Accordingly, a 4,000 – square meter modern factory will be built at the heart of the village.
It is said that the presence of the industrial ceramic company means one of the oldest pottery villages in Southeast Asia – Bau Truc will disappear. This sounds irrational because government has spent billions of dong restoring the country’s traditional occupations to get more jobs for Vietnamese people and maintain and develop national identities.To promote the village and its long-established pottery industry, the Ninh Thuan cultural sector has widened project’s management board demanding that some households there be selected to manage traditional occupation if the project is to be materialized.
No one can deny that Bau Truc Pottery Village and cultural relics contribute greatly for tourists to Ninh Thuan. History shows that a large number of foreigners have come there for tourism or research purposes over the past years, although official tours to this village not been launched. Furthermore, Ninh Thuan has already prepared a tourist masterpiece highlights Bau Truc as a venue worth receiving more investment
(Source: Ninh Thuan History and Culture).