Annamese porcelain

The land that will never vanish







I recently curated an exhibition in an abandoned area. After knowing my idea of selling rice balls in the exhibition space, my husband ordered some Annamese porcelain rice bowls to give the food a better presentation when I served.
The Annamese porcelains in its early period were high in quality. As time went by, the economy of the area that produced Annamese porcelain began to decline, which, in turn, led to a considerable drop in the quality of the porcelain. While blue and white porcelains are usually loved by people for their delicate patterns, Japanese people prefer the poor-quality subpar Annamese porcelains that were produced in their later phase. The bowls my husband bought can even be considered as failed products with some excessive clay stuck to the bottom of the bowls. The workmen who made this would be surprised to know that after almost a hundred year, these bowls that should end up in trash bin would be bought by someone who genuinely appreciates them. There is only a very flimsy boundary between the exquisite and the inferior craftwork. No matter how is the boundary defined, it should be unrelated to the technique of the craftsman.  

The name Annamese porcelain came from a place called Annam that was once located in the central region of the current Vietnamese territory. The name was first given by Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty. Although it was renamed Đại Việt from 1054 to 1804, China continued to call the area Annam. As a result of the Sino-French War, the area became a French protectorate. In 1948, Annam finally became a part of Vietnam and no longer existed on its own. Annamese porcelains are basically the product of this piece of land during the days when it was called Annam. Although Annam has ceased to exist, the term Annamese porcelain is still used to categorize the blue and white porcelain from Vietnam.

Annam was a place far away from Japan that has disappeared from the map, so why is it not yet forgotten? As long as the craft from this region continues to shine, a place will continue to exist in people’s minds.