Bau Truc Pottery Village and the Kate Festival of the Cham ethnic minority people have been recognized as National Intangible Cultural Heritages by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism and are awaiting recognition from UNESCO as intangible cultural heritages in need of urgent protection.

The recognition also aims to honor the cultural values of the Cham people and will present more opportunities for promoting tourism in south-central Ninh Thuan province, where nearly half of all Cham people reside. There are now some 153,000 in Vietnam, with 72,500 in Ninh Thuan.

Bau Truc Pottery Village is 10 km from Phan Rang city and home to more than 400 families, of which about 100 continue to produce its famed ceramics.

Local artisans make use of the shaping “style” of Cham folk arts, using simple tools such as bamboo sticks, arca, and snail shells to engrave different patterns, including symmetrical geometric figures, rivers, and plants, into their pottery. Instead of using a wheel to shape their pots, craftsmen move around the clay piece to create its shape. All are crafted by hand, with every finished item left to dry under the sun and then covered with lit straw and wood, instead of being placed in a kiln.

Another unique characteristic that sets Bau Truc’s pottery apart from the rest is that its raw material, sticky clay, is obtained from the Quao River just once a year, so local people gather as much as they can and store it for use during the rest of the year. The most popular products are reliefs featuring Cham women, Cham kings, dancers, and everyday items.

Kate Festival in Ninh Thuan. Photo:

Meanwhile, the Kate Festival is the largest traditional festival of Vietnam’s Cham people. Held annually for three days, starting on the first day of the seventh lunar month, it is where Cham express their gratitude to emperors, mandarins, and ancestors.

The Cham people call their emperors and mandarins “Pokal”, the village genie “Po Play”, and the ancestors “Mu Kay”. The first day of the festival begins with a thanksgiving ceremony to the Po Play in villages. On the second day, the Cham give offerings to the Pokal at ancient temples, praying for a peaceful and happy life. From the third day, they celebrate at home to honor their ancestors.

People wear traditional outfits during the festival and join in rituals and cultural activities, folk dances, musical performances with traditional instruments, and folk games.

The festival is the Cham’s most important and is among the 15 largest in Vietnam, attracting thousands of local people as well as domestic and international visitors each year.