Traditional pottery village in Muong Chanh - Son La

Monday - 29/09/2014 04:35
In term of pottery, the most famous pottery village is in Muong Chanh Commune, Mai Son district, Son La province. It takes you about 20 km f-rom the north of Son La City. If you want to go to Muong Chanh, it’s very convenient to follow f-rom Mai Son T- crossroads to the highway 4G. This commune is absolutely Black Thai ethnic and the only one surviving handmade pottery tradition ....
Making pottery is one of the long- standing traditional crafts of  Thai ethnic in Son La.
In term of pottery, the most famous pottery village is in Muong Chanh Commune, Mai Son district, Son La province. It takes you about 20 km f-rom the north of Son La City. If you want to go to Muong Chanh, it’s very convenient to follow f-rom Mai Son T- crossroads to the highway 4G. This commune is absolutely Black Thai ethnic and the only one surviving handmade pottery tradition.
Muong Chanh is famous for pottery products to serve their daily needs such as pots, jars, jugs, bottles, etc. They have many uses, for instant, containing water, soaking indigo for dyed fabrics, containing salt, fat, fish sauce, delicious pickled beans, storaging grain, containing rice, cassava, feed, even toys for children.
According to some Muong Chanh, villagers’ information and materials on the research results about the production techniques of the potters, Muong Chanh was an old-age trade village, even ancient pottery center of the Black Thai people in Son La. With the simple ancient "purchase" method, their products were in exchange for other products: agricultural products, cotton, rice, ... They have conceived that the further they exchange goods, the more expensive they are. For example, if the same product taken off the road about 2-3 days can be equal to twice the number of agricultural products than changes in place (place of manufacture). As can be seen, this is a reserved prehistoric notion of the value of the goods of Black Thai ethnic. The pottery here was rough, very close to the ancient ceramics at archaeological sites in the pre- Phung Nguyen time
According to Dr. Bui Van Vuong in his book "Traditional handicraft villages in Vietnam", Culture and Information Publishing House, 2002, page139” , Muong Chanh soil was soft soil, kaolin clay of good quality. The clay was exploited on every family's field and moved back home with bamboo baskets or kneaded into balls then moved back home. When the clay was exploited, it is producted immediately or stored in airtight place for personal use. Muong Chanh’s clay is multi-color: yellow, reddish, bluish-gray and black. In particular, the highest clay cohesion is reddish.
Before shaping pottery, the clay was processed carefully, removed impurities by pounding or beating, depending on each family. Then, workers used their dexterity and visual tools to cre-ate simple but diverse shapes. Patterns on the pottery associated with the simple daily life likes fish pictures, water waves, the land... Potter also took some simple tools such as ceramic stroking tools, sticks to cut and engraved hidden designs. There were two types of stroking tools that were "Vi Kieng" (the semicircular or sickle piece of wood); "Vi Cho" (ax-shaped piece of wood). Tools for cutting and engraving are called as "Cai Dat" (bamboo stick that was beveled and spiky) (Dr. Bui Van Vuong “Traditional handicraft villages in Vietnam", Culture and Information Publishing House, 2002, page 140).
Ceramics after forming and drying would be fired. This is the most important step factor decided the quality of the product. Muong Chanh pottery-kiln  is a tunnel kiln, which was not built but dig underground or into the hillside, includes oven door, burning sky, chamber furnaces and chimneys. Ceramic heating period takes about 1 day (24 hours), time-burners to fire, then fire them and simmer slowly; keeping the ceramic ripe incubates  for 3 days and 3 nights in the oven to cre-ate strength, durability for ceramics; the new unloading the oven has cooled down. Baked fuel here was mainly wood, most of which take advantage of the trees, shoots when cleaning fields or gardens. To cre-ate colors for pottery, potter added a few chestnut leaves in the oven; this leaves releases black smoke when burning, sticking to the product and cre-ate a dark gray pottery c-haracteristic of Muong Chanh. Even ceramic simple technical, Black Thai ethnic in Muong Chanh has a long and trusted reputation in moutainous regions in Northwest.
In recent years, the ceramic products have been more plentiful and cheaper; the ceramic  production of Muong Chanh has faced with many difficulties because of lack firewood (if there is no al-ternative source of coal), monotonous products ... At present, there is only Hoang Van Nam’s family maintained professional pottery kilns but only a few per year.
Therefore, traditional pottery in Muong Chanh need the attention of the authorities in introduction, promotion, market expansion, and teaching techniques for the next generations  in order to preserve and develop the traditional pottery of Muong Chanh in particular and Black Thai people in general. VILLAGE TRADITIONAL POTTERY IN MUONG CHANH- SON LA.
Translate: Tien Sinh

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