Only 13km south east of Hanoi city center is the quant village of Bat Trang. At first glance you wouldn’t think this village is hiding such a rich and lavish history. For over 700 years, Bat Trang has produced some of the finest ceramics (vases, pots, dishes, bowls, cups, incense holder, and items for worship) in Vietnam. According to several historic documents, Bat Trang was established between the 14th and 15th centuries. Through the centuries the quality of the ceramics and the craftsmanship have transformed this little village into one of the most famous ceramic villages for having the best quality, style and glaze, in Vietnam and around the world. The popular foreign markets for these cherished ceramics include Japan, the Netherlands, Britain, Portugal and Southeast Asia. Our volunteers not only got to shop, but were able to make and decorate their own pottery. What a great way to spend a Friday afternoon.
Pankrono is a village about 25 minutes on a tro tro from Kejetia. It is also easy to visit in conjunction with a visit to Ahwiaa. It shares the same road and you can walk it from Ahwiaa.
Pankrono is famous for its pottery, most notably because it the potters make the pots without the use of the potter’s wheel.
After visiting Ahwiaa, I walked for about 25 minutes to visit Pankrono. It was only when I saw the hundred of pots on the sides of the road that I realised that I was already there.
I have to admit that I’m not really interested in pottery, but here I was interested to know how they actually make it. So I did what I usually do in these situations, look for a Ghanaian child who can speak good English to help me out! Sometimes if you ask an adult, they can ask for money later and get quite pushy about it so at times it’s nicer to ask a child. So I found this boy who led me to this lady who was making pots just outside her house.
She showed me how to make the pots and made one within 10 minutes! It was true that they did not use the potter’s wheel, but quite simply crafted it with their hands.
The pot is then left to dry in the sun, and after it has dried out, then it is fired in an ‘oven’. This particular lady’s oven really was just a bonfire that she made herself and certainly nothing that I can call conventional!
I really enjoyed the company of the children there and felt it was really worth the cultural visit.