Keeping the red ochre of Que pottery alive

(VOVWORLD) - Located in Que town, Ha Nam province, Quyet Thanh pottery village was established in the 16th century. The only pottery village in Ha Nam was busy in the 1960s when all the local households were engaged in the craft. Merchants along the Day River often say they like to pass through Que town to enjoy the scent of the local ceramic products.

Keeping the red ochre of Que pottery alive - ảnh 1500-year-old Quyet Thanh pottery village in Que town, Ha Nam province


The traditional craft village of Quyet Thanh is 6 km from Phu Ly city. Its development has closely followed national ups and downs. The village’s pottery craft almost disappeared. 

But in 2004, Quyet Thanh pottery village was recognized as a traditional village of Ha Nam province.

Nguyen Duc Phu, head of the Quyet Thanh pottery cooperative, recalled, “In the 1960s dozens of kilns in the village were busy with production. The products were transported by boat to be sold in other places. Using no chemicals, our pottery products are made completely of clay and water, and fired to make them glossy. The most typical characteristics of our items are their smooth, natural enamel and brownish color.”

Quyet Thanh pottery products include functional ceramic jars, pots, and pans, decorative fine art items, and statues for worship. Quyet Thanh’s signature red ochre ceramic products have been exported to South Korea, Japan, and the US.

Artisan Lai Van Tien said, “This half-mountain half-plain area’s yellow, naturally plastic clay makes Quyet Thanh pottery outstanding. The designs are kept as natural as possible. We prefer making the traditional products.”

It requires many steps to make a pottery product from soaking the clay in a tank, to kneading it by stepping on it, to using a grinder on it. The kneaded clay is placed on a potter’s wheel to shape it. After drying, a piece is painted, polished with red ochre, covered with an enamel layer, and fired.

No chemicals are used. Que ceramics never fade in color. Before being sold, they are glazed.

After being fired, Que pottery products ring with a sharp sound like metal if they are struck.

Keeping the red ochre of Que pottery alive - ảnh 2Quyet Thanh pottery products (Photo: 

Que pottery is famous for not affecting the flavor of wine or tea. According to Lai Van Kiem, a veteran potter, it takes 15 days to fire Que pottery products with coal or wood using the traditional method. Each kiln needs about 10 tons of firewood to reach the necessary temperature to produce qualified products.

“The structure of a kiln in Quyet Thanh village differs from any other place. It is divided into chambers. After the first flask is completely burned, the heat rises to the upper flasks. The top chamber retains all the heat. To produce the brownish color, it’s necessary to use dry firewood and know when to increase the temperature to make the natural enamel melt out,” said Kiem.

In 2010, Quyet Thanh pottery products received the Reorganization for Ceramics Brand from the Ha Nam Science and Technology Department.