eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics



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.

Go-Sanh, literally “pottery mound”, is located in the Binh Dinh province of central Vietnam. In pre-modern times this was the realm of the Cham people, a Malayo-Polynesian speaking group who established a number of important kingdoms, and were feared adversaries of the Khmer and Vietnamese before they were gradually subdued in the 15th century.

The ceramics from Go-Sanh can be divided into three categories. The first consists of greenish or bluish-grey glazed saucers with unglazed stacking rings on their interior bottoms, such as this example below. The greyish clay on the unglazed interior, which appears on these types of wares as well as celadons, also helps identify this piece as belonging to this kiln site.

14th C

NUS Museum S1968-0028-001-0

H: 4.4 cm, D: 16.6 cm

Celadon dishes make up the second category and have a similar type of clay as the above, visible on the unglazed foot of this beaker-shaped bowl. The celadon glaze has been eroded over time, but some of the colour is still visible where the glaze has pooled on the uneven surface.

15th C (or earlier)
H: 7.2 cm; D: 11.8 cm
NUS Museum S1966-0007-001-0

Beaker-shaped cup, from Binh Dinh kilns, with a runny mottled green glaze with bubbles that are caused by over-firing and has the same type of clay mentioned above. See also Brown 1988: pl. 22 b.
14th-15th C
H: 7.7 cm, D: 7.7 cm
NUS Museum 1980-0330-001-0
The final category comprises of brown-glazed vessels of various shapes and tend to have an orangey to reddish-brown clay. This clay is surprisingly light in weight, and can be seen on the unglazed bottom half of the jarlet from Binh Dinh shown below. The brown glaze has mostly flaked off but a grey slip is visible underneath it.

14th-15th C
H: 8 cm, D: 8 cm
NUS Museum S1980-0161-001-0

Jarlet from the Binh Dinh kilns, with two incised decorative circular bands on the shoulder, covered in a caramel-coloured glaze. The lower body and carved foot are unglazed, with an ochre-coloured biscuit. See also Brown 1988: pl. 23 c.
14th-15th C
H: 8.6 cm, D: 9.2 cm
NUS Museum S1968-0056-001-0

Pear-shaped bottle from Binh Dinh, with a flaring mouth-rim, a dark olive-green glaze, and horizontal incised lines on the body. The unglazed lower body and foot show a light brick-coloured biscuit.
14th-15th C
H: 23 cm; D: 11 cm
NUS Museum 1969-0123-001-0
Decoration is generally rare on Binh Dinh wares, except for large brown-glazed storage jars which sometimes have incised or moulded appliqué motifs.

Jar with reddish-orange body, the decoration incised through a runny mottled green-brown glaze.
H: 42 cm
Collection of Ha Duc Can
(Photo source: Brown 1988: pl. XV b)

Jar with five long scaly dragons whose necks form handles, incised decoration of waves under the glaze, a reddish body, and a thin, runny, golden brown glaze speckled with pinholes. From the hill tribes, Binh Dinh province.
14th-15th C
H: 42 cm
Collection of Ha Duc Can
(Photo source: Brown 1988: pl. 22 c)
Sources: Brown 1988: 36-39; Miksic 2009: 61-62

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