Ceramics by the sea

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The stylish ceramics of Cham culture are decorating the 2009 Nha Trang Sea Festival this week.

These days Cham ceramics are produced mainly in the craft villages of Bac Binh and Bau Truc in Binh Thuan and Ninh Thuan provinces on the lower central coast.

Thanks to two artists who took up the distinctive art form early in their careers, the public can enjoy some fine Cham ceramics at the Nha Trang Sea Festival in Khanh Hoa Province this week.

Born in 1960, Doan Xuan Hung is a native of Nha Trang. In his student days at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Fine Arts, he dreamed of creating a garden filled with statues in a seaside park of his home town.

One of Doan Xuan Hung’s works at the Nha Trang Sea Festival

As he matured, the young sculptor scrapped that idea in favor of learning how to make and bake statues the Cham people’s way.

Hung’s fired-clay statues depict beauty and love in all its forms. Indeed, more than half of his one hundred statues on show at Ponagar Tower in Nha Trang are of young women.

His colleague Nhat Chi Lan was born in Da Lat in Lam Dong Province inland from Nha Trang, where she lived for many years before settling down in Binh Thuan.

For more than seven years now she has been studying and restoring old Cham ceramics, and creating some of her own along the way.

In her first exhibition in Nha Trang, Lan recreates the atmosphere of Bau Truc and Bac Binh so that viewers feel like they are visiting the two villages.

Her exhibits, which can be seen along Tran Phu Street next to the main beach, include miniature reliefs adapted from the nearby Cham towers, and two lamps standing 2.3 meters tall.

Also on display for the festival are a dozen double-sided hand-embroidered silk pictures in sets of four from the Nha Trang branch of XQ, a chain of embroidered picture workshops owned by Vo Van Quan and Hoang Le Xuan of Da Lat.

Reported by Phan Huy Tram

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