Binh Duong ceramics
Binh Duong Province is located in the eastern part of the south of Vietnam, with the town of Thu Dau Mot only 30 km south of Ho Chi Minh City. The province has a population of 743,000. It covers an area of 2,716 km2 of highland between the Saigon and Dong Nai Rivers.
 One of Binh Duong's significant cultural characteristics is its network of traditional craft villages spreading all over the province and specializing in ceramics, lacquers, sculpture, brass castings, etc. But it is traditional ceramic production that is the real pride of Binh Duong. Generation after generation, skilful hands and artistic minds have produced a great diversity of ceramics and pottery wares which have established their name in the entire world.
 According to historians, ceramic production appeared in Binh Duong in the 18th century and really started developing when some Chinese potters came to Binh Duong on trading ships. When they saw the high quality of the local clay, the large tree reserves available for firewood and the huge kaolin deposits that could be easily mined, they decided to stay in Binh Duong, giving birth to a profession that has remained active until today.
 Although they have been very influenced by Chinese civilization, Vietnamese potters did not copy Chinese ceramics directly; they combined elements in original ways, experienced with new ideas and adopted features from other cultures such as Cambodia and Champa. This is one of the reasons why it has been said that Vietnam produced the most sophisticated ceramics in Southeast Asia.
 Right from its infancy, Binh Duong ceramics were produced with a vast range of decorative motifs. Besides the traditional blue pattern ceramics, a new style soon became famous under the name of "Lai Thieu cock-figured pottery". It mainly included items for household use such as bowls and widely open dishes that invite a display of delicious items, teapots and cups, cooked rice containers with their
 tops like domes, bottles, etc. Decorative patterns were drawn on the glaze according to very elaborate and tree styles. They were usually using three colors, crimson red, green and black or red, black and indigo. Popular- motifs were a cock, a banana tree or a bunch of chrysanthemums, but other patterns also included flowers and birds, or leaves and landscapes. Binh Duong ceramics remained a kind of porous earthenware, with mostly whitish (ivory- white) glaze. With time, decorative motifs have carried on developing in terms of diversity for the satisfaction of domestic and foreign customers. Binh Duong's ceramics are fired in chambered aid pipe- typed kilns. Through time, products, kiln technology and production processes have steadily improved as Binh Duong potters went through successive stages of modernization and mechanization in order to increase productivity as well as the quality of their products.
 There are now 125 ceramic producers operating more than 500 kilns in Binh Duong province, most of them working in Thuan An and Tan Uyen District, as well as in the city of Thu Dau Mot. They produce millions of pieces every year- to meet the demand of the domestic market and also export worldwide. Two main companies have contributed to establish the reputation of Binh Duong ceramics on the international market being Nan Viet Pottery Company and Minh Long 1. Located in Tai Uyen district, the former runs modem facilities over a 27- hectares area and exports some 1,000 containers of pottery to Europe and South America every year. The latter is the other big Vietnamese name on the world market. It is operating hi-tech tunnel kilns and using the latest technology in its production lines from the stages of mixing materials to designing, modeling, drying aid coating. Other famous companies such as Thanh Le, Minh Tan, Hiep Ky, Cuong Phat as well as a number of manufacturing workshops have also greatly contributed to the development of Binh Duong ceramics throughout the world, to its present export turnover of almost USD 60 millions a year.
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