Ninh Thuan to apply for UNESCO status for Cham pottery
Update: Dec 14, 2018
Officials from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and representatives from the central province of Ninh Thuan met with delegates from other countries over the weekend to discuss the Cham pottery village’s application for UNESCO status. 

The purpose of the conference was to collect ideas from domestic and foreign scientists, researchers and experts, as well as documents to support a dossier that will be submitted to UNESCO.

Le Van Binh, deputy chairman of the Ninh Thuan Province’s People’s Committee, said that necessary procedures related to the dossier were nearly finished and would be sent to the UNESCO Committee in March.

The Bau Truc pottery village in Ninh Thuan Province is one of the oldest ceramic villages in Southeast Asia. About 85 per cent of the village’s 400 households make pottery.

The village, which has existed since the reign of the Cham King Po Klong Garai (1151-1205), holds a ceremony every year to honour Po Klong Chan, the founder of the village.

Conference participants also discussed the value of traditional Cham pottery-making, and other pottery hubs in Viet Nam and Asia.

They noted that Cham pottery needed urgent protection, and proposed solutions, including new policies for village tourism. Participants also dicussed ways to transfer the craft to younger generations and introduce it to the world.

Dr Truong Van Mon of the Viet Nam National University in HCM City said that to preserve and develop traditional pottery villages, local authorities should look for ways to improve artisans’ incomes.

The Bau Truc pottery village is famous for its handmade pottery made with a unique technical process

One of the most outstanding features of the traditional Cham pottery is the technique of shaping their wares by hand rather than by a wheel and their use of simple tools or shells to decorate the products.

The pottery is dried under the sun for four to six hours before being fired outdoors over straw or wood.

The skills of the Cham have created a variety of products used for daily activities and spiritual worship.

Some of the products include cylindrical jars which store water or rice, decorative lamps, reliefs, and statuettes of apsara or gods. Their works showcase the creativity and unique culture of the Cham people.

However, because of industrialisation, Bau Truc pottery is fading, with fewer workers engaging in the craft.

Dang Thi Phan, a famous ceramic artisan, said that pottery-making was more difficult now because of natural resource regulations, while the long time needed to burn wood for firing the ceramics contributed to deforestation.