Binh Duong struggles to preserve pottery-making craft as challenges mount

(VOVWORLD) - Binh Duong province’s 200-year-old pottery-making craft has been recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. Like other crafts, it has been challenged by the integration process. In recent years, local craftsmen have tried hard to adapt but could still use help from the state.


Binh Duong struggles to preserve pottery-making craft as challenges mount - ảnh 1Binh Duong’s pottery is characterized by its unique designs and colorful enamel.

Located about 3 km from Thu Dau Mot City, Lo Lu road is considered the cradle of Binh Duong’s pottery-making craft. Dozens of households here still follow the traditional method of producing jars, pots, and vases.

Bui Van Giang, the owner of the Dai Hung pottery kiln, the province’s oldest, says that when clay jars and pots were more popular, traders came to buy products. But in recent years, kiln owners like him have had to look for outlets in the Mekong Delta provinces or export to Cambodia.

Giang said local craftsmen have changed patterns, designs, and enamels to meet changing tastes, but earnings remain low.  

“Though earnings from this craft are less than from other crafts, all my family members keep doing it because of our passion for pottery. Many of us have worked in the trade for 30 years. This is the third generation of my a family to do the job,” Giang said.

Binh Duong is famous for jars, vases, rice bowls, earthen pots, cups, and ceramic tea pots with colorful enamel and decorations.

Pottery has continued to contribute to local economic development, job generation, and stable incomes.

Binh Duong now has nearly 300 ceramic production facilities, each year providing the market 130 to 150 million products and exporting to demanding markets in Europe and America.

However, the  number of pottery kilns in the province’s three famous ceramic centers - Thu Dau Mot city, Thuan An city, and Tan Uyen town - has decreased because of stricter environmental regulations.

Binh Duong struggles to preserve pottery-making craft as challenges mount - ảnh 2

Ly Ngoc Bach, Chairman of the provincial Ceramics Association, attributed the decrease to the provincial administration’s decision to relocate ceramics production facilities out of residential areas and convert to gas or electricity use.

Relocating and changing technologies requires a lot of capital, said Bach, adding, “We want the provincial administration to reserve an area for ceramics production and to provide long-term, preferential loans for kiln owners.”

“That will encourage the production of cheaper, more competitive products,” said Bach.

One problem Binh Duong pottery has is a shortage of workers with the dexterity and creativity needed to turn out beautiful, competitive products.

To fix the problem, Binh Duong Fine Arts-Culture College has restored training for the craft.

Le Trung Hai, who owns the Trung Thanh pottery workshop in Thuan An city, underlined the importance of practice, adding, “Training should involve hands-on pottery-making at a kiln to give trainees both theory and practice.”