Burnay Jars – Burnay Pottery
Jars made from Vigan are much sought-after by foreign and local visitors. This earthenware is called burnay. The industry that has grown from the making of burnay dates back to pre-colonial times when immigrants from China came to settle in Vigan. They practiced the craft of making earthenware using the grade A clay that was found in plenty in the Western area of Vigan. The making of burnay is done with just the use of the potter’s skillful hands and use of pottery wheel and kiln. Fine sand is used to temper the clay, which once fashioned into the desired shape is placed inside high-temperature ground kilns made from brick and clay. Compared to terracotta, people say that the burnay is hardier.
Its earlier use were for tea drinking, and as container for salt, brown sugar, water, local wine (basi) and bagoong (fermented fish). It is even said that basi and bagoong taste much better when stored inside burnays. Nowadays, people buy them mostly to serve as decorations inside their homes and gardens. Miniature versions of the jars are also made in abundance because they have become a favorite souvenir item of foreign and local tourists.
Liking for the burnay has reached the markets abroad, especially in Europe. Local and foreign traders have made contacts with factory owners to order from their current offerings or for burnay products to be done according to new buyer or market specifications. Most of the local traders come from Manila and Bulacan. The biggest local trader of burnay is said to be the Bulacan Garden. Most of the foreign traders are from Great Britain and Belgium. The continuous demand for the local earthern craft has sustained the livelihood of many Chinese and
Fil-Chinese generations who own burnay factories or camarin, and the preservation of the craft. The Pagburnayan or the place where these camarins can be found is in the Baranggay VII, in the Southwest part of the city. There are only about three burnay camarins now in existence all over the country, and they are all in Vigan. Tour packages to Vigan are sure to include a visit to Pagburnayan, as it is a must-see attraction. One of the descendants of Chinese immigrants who introduced burnay-making in Vigan, Fidel Go has been awarded by the National Commission on Culture and Arts in 1990 as National Folk Artist. He is the owner of Ruby Pottery and until now continues to practice and sustain the craft of burnay-making.