Huong Canh pottery village in northern Vinh Phuc Province, which was locally famous for their products in the previous century, is nearly at the point of disappearing.
Traditional pottery products
The village, 40 kilometres south of Hanoi, is in Lo Cang Hamlet, Huong Canh Township. Elderly people in the village say the craft has a history of over 300 years and it was famous for several products, such as pottery pots, jars, and tea-sets.
Consumers loved products from the village because of their durability and specific characteristics. “The soil here is very rich and good for the making of high quality products that is recognizable from the sound they make when clinked together,” said Nguyen Thanh, a local craftsman who has 70 years experience in making pottery products.
Another reason the products here won popularity is that they help preserve quality and fragrance of tea and alcohol, Thanh said.
Craftsman Giang Anh, son of Nguyen Thanh, making an alcohol jar
The village was famous for its products during the 1950s and 1970s. However, the village now is on the wane due to mounting difficulties.
Despite its long history, Tam Duong Cooperative was officially set up on December 26, 1958. The group was then renamed Tam Duong pottery Cooperative, with 180 households and 230 people taking part in production.
“The peak time for the village was between 1968 and 1971, when demand was sometimes higher than production,” Thanh recalled.
However, due to the impacts of the market economy, the products are no longer popular due to the lack of diverse and attractive designs and the quick pupularisation of plastic and metal products.
Bui Thi Nu, a craftsman who has 60-year experience blamed the decline of the village to the lack of skilled workers.
An 80-year-old craftswoman
The cooperative declared bankruptcy in 1987, taking away the incomes of many in the village. Those who have agricultural land returned to farming and only a few families have maintained their traditional craft.
Even though Thanh’s family can make a profit of VND500 million per year, their production has yet to be at full capacity due to the lack of space. The same situation has been recorded at other pottery-making households.
Now the craft is on the brink of vanishing, as there are few skilled craftsmen left, while those who maintain the craft are finding it hard to earn a living.
Lack of funding
Local authorities have taken measures by providing funds to households to restore the craft, but the results have not been apparent because of a lack of capital.
While the support is worth only VND40 million (USD1,894) per household, investment for a household businesses may reach as much as one billion VND.
Luu Van Minh, head of Department of Trade in Binh Xuyen District said, “We’ve proposed that the provincial Department of Industry and Trade quickly zone around 10,000 hectares of land for the craft in Binh Xuyen District, including space for the pottery village. The plan was drafted in 2011 but has yet to be carried out.”