ClockFriday, 21/06/2024 08:52

Dragon symbol through Tran Do's ceramics

TTH.VN - 56 exquisitely crafted dragon artworks made of ceramics by Tran Do, an artisan from Bat Trang pottery village of Hanoi, have been introduced to the public during the 2024 Hue International Arts Festival Week.

“Dragon symbol through Tran Do’s pottery”

 Enthusiastic young visitors at the Kien Trung Palace Exhibition

Exquisite artworks 

The exhibition is on Kien Trung Palace's second floor of Hue Imperial City. People's Artisan Tran Do has meticulously crafted a collection of nearly 60 ceramic artworks, most drawing inspiration is from the dragon symbol found on the seals of the Nguyen Dynasty. He has imbued these pieces with intricate patterns and motifs that elevate them to perfection and vitality. Through Tran Do's artistic vision and skillful execution, these dragon depictions are imbued with a renewed splendor, radiating the timeless allure of their ancient origins.

Interestingly, the dragon artworks in the exhibition space, each with its distinct shape and hues, are vying to rise in form, embodying aspirations, wishes, and good omens.

Mr. Hoang Viet Trung, the Director of the Hue Monuments Conservation Center (HMCC), revealed that artisan Tran Do undertook extensive research and consultation at different museums and heritage conservation facilities,including the National History Museum, Vietnam Fine Arts Museum, Thang Long Imperial Citadel Center, Hue Monuments Conservation Center. He accessed documents and artifacts related to the Vietnamese dragon symbol throughout historical periods. This was an essential source of material for the artisan to enrich his creative resources.

As a famous artisan in the Vietnamese pottery village, Tran Do has persistently sought unique characteristics for his products, imbued with the essence of national culture. In his participation at Hue Festival, artisan Trần Độ introduced a collection of 57 dragon-centric artworks. While 56 of these pieces were prominently displayed in the exhibition, one is kept at Hue Monuments Conservation Center.

To bring these artworks to fruition, artisan Tran Do harbored the vision for numerous years. In a collaborative effort of remarkable dedication, he and a team of 10 skilled artisans from the Trần Độ pottery workshop meticulously crafted the collection for one and a half years, culminating their efforts to coincide with the auspicious Dragon year of 2024.

As for People's Artisan Tran Do, every step is very important to achieve the finished artwork. In Bat Trang, they say “nhất xương, nhì men, tam tích, tứ họa” (first is the form; second is the glaze; third is the hue; fourth is the painting). Everything related to these four steps is indispensable. “Among the 86 precious seals, I pay the most attention to the Hoàng đế Chi bảo seal (Emperor's Treasure seal), the Sắc mệnh Chi bảo seal (Mandate’s Treasure seal), and the Tề gia trị quốc seal (Managing the household and governing the country seal). “These three seals,” he explains, “hold a special place in the Nguyen Dynasty's legacy, symbolizing power and bearing witness to the historical events of the era. They are the most extraordinary, encapsulating the authority and the pivotal moments that shaped our nation's past.” 

“Bat Trang has been associated with Hue for hundreds of years, starting from the bricks and tiles of Bat Trang that connected the heritage structures of the ancient Hue capital. Now, we follow the path left by our ancestors and want to do something meaningful for Hue, so I chose to create a collection of dragon ceramics to display at this Festival,” shared Artisan Tran Do.

A gift for Hue 

For enthusiasts of pottery art, those who cherish Hue’s cultural heritage, and visitors alike, the exhibition “Dragon symbol through Tran Do’s ceramics” is very fascinating and educational.

Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, the Director of the Department of Culture and Sports, shared that People's Artisan Tran Do, drawing upon his extensive research into the gold and jade seals of the Nguyen Dynasty preserved at the National History Museum, has meticulously reimagined these historical artifacts in the form of gold-plated ceramic pieces within this remarkable collection. Some pieces are crafted to a precise 1:1 scale, while the majority of the others have been modified and adapted in size. Some seals do not follow the actual proportions. Yet, through the artisan's lens, the paramount element is the inspiration drawn from the dragon motifs adorning the knobs and handles of the Nguyen Dynasty's seals, which are perched at the pinnacle of the seals, symbolizing the supreme power of the royal family at that time, mostly the seals of the emperor, empress, dowager empress, and princes.

"The emperor’s seal system has been transformed by the artisan onto gold-plated ceramic material into artworks that are both beautiful and luxurious, helping viewers understand more about our ancestors’ concept of the symbolic nature of power and even the artistic beauty of the dragon symbol on a very special material of the past,” said Dr. Phan Thanh Hai.

Another aspect that adds significant meaning is that the seal collection, crafted as a tribute to Hue, aligns with the Year of the Dragon - a time when there is hope for Thua Thien Hue province to ascend to the status of a centrally governed city. It is also a year filled with anticipation for a cultural renaissance, marked by the restoration of significant heritage sites, including the reconstruction of Kien Trung Palace, the restoration of Thai Hoa Palace, and the forthcoming reconstruction of Can Chanh Palace... Particularly noteworthy is the exhibition’s setting in the Kien Trung Palace, a space of profound significance, which has recently undergone meticulous restoration and is now open to the public.

Following the exhibition, Artisan Tran Do will generously donate a selection of seals associated with the Nguyễn Dynasty to Hue, ensuring their continued exhibition and preservation.

Story and photo: LIEN MINH
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