08:37 | 22/04/2016 Local Economy
Kim Lan, a commune on the outskirts of Hanoi, has taken steps to escape from the shadow of the renowned Bat Trang ceramic village and establish itself as a prestigious pottery producer.
A worker puts final touches onto a ceramic product in Kim Lan (Photo: hanoimoi.com.vn)
According to archaeologists and historians, the making of ceramics in Kim Lan dates back more than 1,000 years. The craft there reached its peak around the 13th and 14th centuries, making the village a pottery production centre for the capital city of Thang Long (now Hanoi).
Kim Lan ceramics such as roof tiles, decorative bricks and blue and white enamelled wares were high-end products in the past. They were possibly shipped abroad as patterns on ceramic pieces found in the Philippines and Indonesia are similar to those on the village’s products under the Tran Dynasty (from the 13th – 14th century), archaeologists say.
Despite this storied history, pottery making in Kim Lan was on the decline a long time.
This was partly because of the village’s abundance of farmland which pushed natives towards farming. Those who wanted to continue the craft moved to neighbouring Bat Trang village.
Vice Chairman of the Kim Lan communal People’s Committee Nguyen Tien Mung added Bat Trang boasts many advantages such as location and transport links that Kim Lan did not have.
Most pottery makers in his commune worked separately and were not skilled at marketing, making local ceramics almost unknown, he noted.
The production of ceramics has been revived in Kim Lan over the last three decades. Now, the commune is home to 240 ceramics making families. Their ceramics and porcelain make up 60 percent of local economic production value.
Nguyen Chi Phuong, a ceramics workshop owner, said although the quality was the same, Bat Trang products were sold at higher prices.
He said he used to be discouraged because of weak sales, low productivity and high labour costs.
However, Phuong tried to create his own new designs, unlike many other families who produce ceramics with the same designs. He also does not sell his products all year round but only during four months ahead of the Lunar New Year.
Tu, a worker at Phuong’s workshop, said selling products then can prevent other makers from copying their designs as purchasing power usually increases in the run up to the year’s biggest festival.
Their ceramics are also marked with their own brand, instead of “Bat Trang” like in the past, to build up prestige for the workshop and Kim Lan.
Residents in Kim Lan specialise in making ceramics for daily use such as bowls, plates, flowerpots and vases, as well as for construction like bricks and roof tiles.
Kim Lan Vice Chairman Nguyen Tien Mung said the communal administration has zoned 4.9ha of land for ceramics manufacturing and will build a product promotion centre.
The local potters’ association has also designed a logo for Kim Lan ceramics so that their products are sold with their true origin, not under the name of “Bat Trang” any more, he added./.