Vietnam is a cornucopia of fresh fruits and vegetables.
|A shopper at a local market selects fresh picks.|
|Delicious and colorful dragonfruit entice the eye.|
While farmers have harvested and fed the country for ages, ceramicists have produced and supplied clay vessels for food.
|Recently made clay pieces drying outside a studio in Bat Trang, a pottery village about 12 km, south of Hanoi, along the Red River.|
Bat Trang's narrow alleys and streets have housed pottery studios since the 14th century, and I was fortunate to work and study with some of the master potters here.
|Walking through the historic narrow throughways of Bat Trang.|
|Large ceramic urns drying outside a potter's home in Bat Trang.|
|Finished pieces transported in town.|
|And displayed for sale.|
|A ceramic store in Bat Trang. |
Local potters I spent time with were extremely welcoming.
|Vicki working with a master Vietnamese clay artist in his Bat Trang studio. |
|The entrance to one potter's home atelier.|
|Where he tirelessly works at his vast production of ceramic wares.|
|Including clay bottles.|
|Preparing them to be fired in his large gas kiln.|
While most potters in Bat Trang work in large scale, often using clay molds, some artisans continue to make pieces individually by hand, or even by foot.
|A local potter uses his feet to compress clay into flat tile forms.|
|He then creates impressive scenes on the clay.|
|Forming large wall hangings.|
Others continue to use their hands to manually turn wheels upon which clay vessels are made.
|Teamwork involved here, with one man sitting and turning the wheel so that his standing partner can work and build up the wall of this large vessel. |
|A gorgeous finished piece completed at this Bat Trang studio.|
|Teapots drying outside.|
|Completed ones, in the Bat Trang signature blue glazing on sale in a shop. |
Potters work meticulously and arduously over individual pieces.
|A master potter laboring on his form made on an electric potter's wheel. |
|He uses a saucer to smooth and compress the clay. |
|Work drying in his studio.|
At the end of a long day at the studio, sports provides some fun and unwinding.
|A local evening volleyball game.|
The historic town of Bat Trang is not the only ceramics production site in Vietnam.
|A Bat Trang alley.|
Unique styles of ceramic production are seen throughout the country.
|A few kilometers from Hoi An town, in a small pottery village, a woman stands and kicks a potter's wheel while she simultaneously prepares (wedges) clay to be used on the wheel by her colleague, who crouches and works clay into a finished form on the wheel. |
|In the same town, a woman carves clay forms into lanterns.|
While new clay pieces are being produced for use every day in Vietnam, old vessels have been transformed into architectural structures.
|In a monastery outside of Hue, this structure is comprised of pottery shards.|
|Close-up of remnants of clay vessels in one of the columns. |
|Another segment of a nearby structure at the monastery.|
A detail of broken plates, cups, and bowls used in the construction.
Hue, an earlier capital of Vietnam, is strewn with historic sites that use shards as building material.
|The impressive Tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, built from 1920-1931.|
The Emperor Khai Dinh is interred inside beneath his statue, in an immense, ornate room adorned throughout with segments of past ceramic pieces.
|Inside the stunning, ceramic-covered tomb of Khai Dinh, whose likeness sits atop a throne beneath which he is buried. |
|Columns in the tomb, designs all created from clay shards. |
|Detail of pottery segments combining to produce this dragon motif. |