Recording the Knowledge of Traditional Potters from Vietnam: A Historical Perspective

By Cécile de Francquen, DO Truong Giang, and Viện Nghiên cứu Kinh Thành | 10 November 2020

In Vietnam, the production of pottery vessels has undergone many changes over the last thirty years, due to the economic opening of the country. On the one hand, tourism and the export of goods has led to the development of new products and new manufacturing techniques. On the other hand, the democratisation of plastic and metal containers engendered a decline in the use of domestic pottery. Also, pottery production – especially cooking and storage pottery – remains largely ignored by scholars working in Vietnam, who generally focus on fine chinaware or ceramics which have long been exported throughout South East Asia. 

Due to a lack of demand, the production of domestic pottery is now in decline and this know-how, which was once important for the social life of communities, is now doomed to disappear. However, they do hold a lot of information that could contribute to our knowledge of the history of common people in South East Asia, which remains largely unknown. 

 

The main aim of this project is to document, through films and photographs, the entire manufacturing process and uses of domestic pottery in 8 Vietnamese villages where potters belong to 4 different ethnic groups (Kinh, Mnong Rlam, Bana and Co Tu). The comparison of the processes and the confrontation with available historical data will not only allow to approach the history of local pottery traditions but also that of historical relationships between ethnic groups in the area. 

 

PI:
Cécile de Francquen, PhD 
candidate, Centre d’Anthropologie Culturelle, Université Libre de Bruxelles 

Collaborators:
DO
 Truong Giang, Head of the Department of Information and International Cooperation
Viện Nghiên cứu Kinh Thành, Institute of Imperial Citadel Studies (IICS)

Location of Research:
Vietnam—Hoằng Hợp (Hoang Hoa, Thanh Hoa); Hien Lê (Vinh Phuc); Quế An (Quế Sơn, Quảng Nam); A Xan (Quảng Nam); Hanh Mai (Phù Cát, Bình Ðịnh); Đắk Tờ Re (Kon Rẫy, Kon Tum); Trung Dong (Vạn Ninh, Khánh Hòa); Yang Tao (Lắk, Đắk Lắk)

 

Top Banner Image: Kinh potter smooting and enlarging small cooking pots (niêu) in Thanh  village (Photo: Cécile de Francquen