Vigan Stories and Tips

Pagburnayan

Harry Potter Photo, Vigan, Philippines

The burnay (clay pots, jugs, jars) is one of the most important cultural heritage of the region. They even claim that it is stronger than the terracotta of China. In the Western Part of Vigan, good quality clay can be found. The production of burnay was inspired by the trading that happened in the region with the Chinese.

Historically, the burnay was used for various household items like water container, both for drinking and bathing. It is also used for various cooking depending on the size of the pot. Right now, people often buy burnay as decorative items for their homes.

In Vigan, there is a small village called Pagburnayan or "place where burnay is made." Here there are a couple of burnay factories which are open to the public. When we got to one factory, there were actually several calesas stationed there, probably waiting for their clients to finish with the viewing of the pottery making.

It was quite late when we got there, so I was uncertain if we would catch any pottery-making. We were lucky. There was a big group of people and the potter was cleaning his kiln for a demonstration. The potter sprinkled some sand to add some friction to the kiln, then he put some clay and started molding a pot. The procedure was quite fast, probably just lasting over a minute. The potter just spun his kiln and skilfully used his hands to form the burnay jug.

If it were earlier in the day, usually potters would let some tourists have a go at the pottery. I was able to try the last time I was there. The potter spun the kiln while I tried to mold the pot. I was terrible at it, with the mouth of the pot quite messed up in my hands. LOL.

When the potter finished, he removed the jar he made and placed it along with the rest of items that needed to be baked. He then scraped some of the extra mud and threw it back in clay pool.

Outside the factory, there were several vendors selling various items including burnay products. Scattered outside are also deformed burnay jugs and broken burnay. With some good light, photographers would also enjoy taking photos of the place. Best to go there around 8 to 10 AM or 3 to 5PM.

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