CULTURE 15

TRADITIONAL POTTERY & CERAMIC

Prehistoric Age

In prehistoric times, ceramic products were understandably coarse as most were mixed by women from sand and other materials. Most of the designs on the surface of the ceramics were created with sticks while the products were still wet. All of the pottery prod­ucts from this era had useful applications for household duties and cooking.

Metal Age

Most of the pottery products from the Bronze Age were formed on turn tables and had diverse styles. As well as cooking utensils, there were also artistic ceramics and prod­ucts for tool production. The diverse products were decorated with carved images and covered by a different coloured layer of an enamel-like substance. The adornment of pottery products from this period was performed using bronze tools. Iron Age pottery products developed in all regions of the country. These products were produced at low temperatures using some­what rudimentary techniques. The form and ornamentation of the Iron Age pottery prod­ucts was quite unique to this period. This craft developed from traditional experience, and from the influence of the Chinese. Architectural pottery, including bricks and tiles, also originated during this time and small simple statues of animals, such as pigs and oxen, were introduced.

From the Ly Dynasty until Now

After more than ten centuries of Chinese domination, the Ly and Tran dynasties saw the reestablishment of national independ­ence. During this period, pottery experienced splendid achievements in quality and diversi­ty through large-scale production. Basic elements, including the form, decora­tions, and coloured enamel, were employed to create beautiful products. The painted dec­orations were simple, but incredibly attractive. Unique carving characteristics developed and various kinds of enamel were applied. Since the 15th century, ceramic started to bear white enamel with blue designs and fabrication techniques improved. Nowadays, some localities are still spe­cialised in producing ceramics, including Bac Ninh Province, Nam Dinh Province, Quang Ninh Province, and Ha Noi, etc.

FINE ARTS & CRAFTS PRODUCTS

Bamboo Products

Bamboo and rattan (tre, may and song) are abundant sources of material used by Vietnamese handicraftsmen. The advantages of these products are that they are light, durable, and termite resistant. Bamboo and rattan products from Viet Nam first appeared on the world market at a Paris fair in 1931. Since then, more than 200 items made from these materials are sold over­seas. Among the most popular are baskets, flower pots, lampshades, and bookshelves.

Lacquerware

Lacquerware is really typical to Viet Nam, although it also exists in other Asian coun­tries. It is said that the resin extracted from the trees in the northern province of Vinh Phuc is the best one. As such, the lacquer­ware products made in Viet Nam are very beautiful and durable. As early as the 18th century, people in Nam Ngu District in Thang Long (Ha Noi) spe­cialised in making lacquerware products. In its early stages of development, lacquerware contained only four colours: black, red, yel­low, and brown. However, due to improve­ments in technologies in later years, additional pigment colours were made, therein, creating a wider range of lacquer colours. Currently, Vietnamese made lacquerware products are essential in both the domestic and foreign markets. The renowned products include wall paintings, flower vases, jewellery boxes, trays, chessboards, and folding screens. Most of the tra­ditional sculp­tures are made in Da Nang City, more specifical­ly near Ngu Hanh Son Mountain locat­ed between Quan Khai and Hoa Khe villages. Sculptors use marble to carve various articles of high value, including bracelets, ash-trays, Buddha statues, ornamental flowers, leaves and trees, and animal statues, such as lions, cats and peacocks.

Jewellery

As soon as the 2″d century, the Vietnamese were using gold and silver to create jewellery. There are three different techniques used to make gold and silver jewellery, including intri­cate carving, casting, which is the process of melting metal and pouring it into flower, lead, or bird shaped moulds, and common pro­cessing, which is a process of polishing metal. These three techniques can be combined to make intricate pieces of jewellery. Because of the flexibility of the raw materials, the colour of gold, and the brightness of silver, beautiful necklaces, bracelets, earrings, rings, trays, and cups are created. It is said that gold work originated in Dinh Cong Village near Ha Noi and that silver work originated in Dong Xam Village in Thai Binh Province.

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