The untold story of record-breaking Chu Dau Ceramic’s calligraphy icon

December 16, 2019 | 08:00
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An impressive ceramic plate featuring the Vietnamese word for dragon written 1,000 times in calligraphy, which was awarded a Guinness world record in September, was created from the love for the country as well as national sovereignty, the dream of a flourishing future, and the pride of being Vietnamese.
the untold story of record breaking chu dau ceramics calligraphy icon

The ceramic plate in question is a unique product from Chu Dau Ceramic JSC under the Hanoi Trade Corporation (Hapro), a member of BRG Group, and is a source of pride not only for the company but also for the Vietnamese ceramic industry. The world record is also a worthy honour for Chu Dau Ceramic’s artisans and potters, who love pottery as much as they love to breathe.

Almost a decade ago, Hapro received an order from Hanoi to produce a special product to mark the occasion of celebrating the 1,000-year Thang Long-Hanoi. It was both an honour and a challenge for the company, anxious to discover new ideas in order to create a unique artwork representing both the Vietnamese culture and Hanoi’s history.

Vu Thanh Son, vice chairman of Chu Dau Ceramic said, “Thang Long means ‘soaring dragon’ and a round ceramic plate symbolises heaven. So, we came up with the idea of making a large ceramic plate with dragon in calligraphy, representing 1,000 dragons flying in the sky.”

All the artists at Chu Dau Ceramic were excited with the idea, and the enthusiastic atmosphere of the workplace was like a festival. But to craft a ceramic plate of such a size, the largest ceramic plate in Vietnam at that time, via a completely manual method, was no small challenge for any worker.

In each stage of making the record-breaking plate, every step required the meticulous know-how of the workers. First of all, the molding for the plate and ceramic bone were created. To produce a giant mold, the workers at Chu Dau Ceramic had to experiment several times to come up with the desired result. Several artisans pondered how to mix white clay and kaolin to make ceramic bones strong enough to withstand the heat of a large kiln.

After tens of batches were created over more than four months, the artists finally came up with the formula to make the toughest piece of the largest ceramic plate in Vietnam. In total, it took nearly seven months to complete the plate.

Honouring Vietnamese creativity

the untold story of record breaking chu dau ceramics calligraphy icon

The special feature of the Chu Dau ceramic plate is the word “long”, or dragon, written in calligraphy in 1,000 different configurations by famous calligraphy writer Le Thien Ly. He had created two new ways of writing calligraphy, namely “Nhan Dien Thu” and “Vat Dieu Thu”.

The plate is a symbol of unique creation and talent of contemporary Vietnamese calligraphy. Combining traditional and new calligraphic forms, the 1,000 symbols create a fascinating continuous picture. In Nhan Dien Thu calligraphy, each inscription describes a human portrait. There is a brave soldier protecting Thang Long citadel; a scholar; a soldier holding a gun to defend the Fatherland; naval soldiers sailing on the sea; students reading a book, and many more besides.

Meanwhile in the Vat Dieu Thu style, each word describes an object. There are leaves, flowers, fish, books, ceramic pots, and even a guitar. The word is also transformed unpredictably in the shape of varied dragons - hidden, dancing, flying, and more. They also portray Vietnam’s map with the two archipelagos of Hoang Sa (Paracel Islands) and Truong Sa (Spratly Islands). According to Le Thien Ly, the writing for the plate itself took two months to finish.

“This is the first time I have teamed with Chu Dau Ceramic, the ancient ceramic group with nearly 600 years of history,” said Ly. “The plate not only represents the intellect and talent of Vietnamese people but also is a meaningful gift for the capital of Hanoi and its thousand-year-old culture.”

After the painting was complete, the product was covered with a natural enamel layer extracted from rice husk ash. Ultimately, the special plate of great artwork demonstrates the quintessence of Vietnamese culture in both ceramic and calligraphy arts, with strong affirmation of the country’s sovereignty and national cultural identity.

Dedicated to preserving and promoting the cultural and historical values of Chu Dau Ceramic, BRG chairwoman Nguyen Thi Nga said, “This artwork shows the continuous development and creativity of Chu Dau Ceramic in a historical flow of nearly 600 years. BRG Group is proud to be in charge of developing Chu Dau Ceramic, to preserve the quintessence of Vietnamese culture and promote Chu Dau Ceramic to be well-known all over the world.”

In September, Chu Dau Ceramic JSC, a member of BRG Group, was honoured to be awarded the Guinness world record for its ceramic plate featuring 1,000-word “Long” in calligraphy - a masterpiece of Vietnamese handicrafts. Previously, in 2013, the plate was awarded a certificate from the Association of Vietnamese Records for the largest plate with the Vietnamese word for dragon written 1,000 times in calligraphy.

The plate not only honours the talent of Chu Dau Ceramic artisans, but also glorifies the Vietnamese ceramic industry, which was worthy of the 10 golden words that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc bestowed on the company – “Chu Dau Ceramic - Vietnamese national character, shining over five continents”.

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