eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics

Chu Dau


Sites in Vietnam

Thanh Hoa
Chu Dau
Bat Trang

High fired ceramics were already being produced in Vietnam 2000 years ago. The white-glazed, white bodied ceramics from tombs in Thanh-hoa were older than any then known in China.

By the 1st century, the Vietnamese were aware of the glazing process when Chinese craftsmen followed Chinese soldiers and administrators to form new settlements in the region of modern Hanoi. Vietnamese wares nevertheless, closely resembled Chinese forms.

After the fall of the Han dynasty in the early 3rd century, the early Vietnamese ceramic tradition seems to have come to an end. A renaissance of sorts occurred in the period of the Ly dynasty (1009-1225). Vietnamese ceramics received a major impetus at the end of the 14th century when the Ming dynasty severely restricted exports.

Click on markers on the map to find out about individual sites in Vietnam.
Chu Dau

Chu Dau, in the Nam Sach county east of Hanoi, was discovered in 1983, which led to a series of excavations being conducted there from 1986 to 1991. It is estimated to have begun production in the 13th century, reaching a peak in the 15th and 16th centuries, and declining in the 17th century.

This is the place which is mentioned in the famous vase signed by a woman named Bui and dated 1450 in the Topkapi Saray Museum, Istanbul, shown below.

H: 54 cm
(Photo source: Brown 1988: pl. X)

In the late 16th century another potter, this time a man named Dang Huyen Thong signed at least 10 of his works, including censers and lampstands. He was unusual in that he was a bachelor of literature as well as a potter. His home was located only two kilometres from Chu Dau (Tang 1993: 34).

The Chu Dau kilns produced a wide range of shapes and decorations. These included some fancy items such as large stem cups, meiping, limepots, double-gourd ewers with fine handles and spouts and white glaze, and covered boxes, though the vast majority of products are bowls, many with chocolate wipes on their bases. Decoration included celadon glaze, cobalt blue designs, overglaze enamels and brown-glazed bowls with incised motifs.

Miniature underglaze blue decorated covered boxes with missing lids, possibly from Chu Dau
15th C
Top: D: 4 cm, H: 2 cm; ACM HC SEA 011
Exterior decorated with a horizontal band of lotus petals between 2 lines; interior grey-green glaze with visible pooling in well; rim and recessed base unglazed.
Middle: D: 5.6 cm, H: 2.5 cm; ACM HC SEA 010
Moulded form corresponding to decorative panels of alternating designs comprising four-petaled flowers and leaf scrolls; all in blue underglaze; a fine grey-green glaze in interior; rim and recessed base unglazed.
Bottom: D: 6.4 cm, H: 3cm; ACM HC SEA 009

Exterior decorated in bright blue underglaze of 4 visible panels of alternating wave and leaf scroll motifs; panels separated by vertical lines; around base, 3 horizontal bands in blue-green underglaze; rim unglazed; interior with a grey-green glaze with slight pooling in well; unglazed recessed base.

Little unfortunately remained of the kilns themselves. Much kiln furniture has however survived. Many saggars have been recovered. Ring supports with three spurs have also been found (Tang 1993: pls. A95, A96, A97)

Source: Miksic 2009: 59-60