Culture Culture

05/03/2022 - 08:07

Story of Hue through antique pottery told

Telling the gripping stories about the Huong (Perfume) River and Hue land imprinted with the culture through antique pottery, the Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery aims to adopt a strategy of development towards modernity and promotion of the values to domestic and foreign tourists through the digital platforms.

Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan introducing a collection of the Huong River antique pottery

Cultural sediment

Established in late 2021, Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery (120 Nguyen Phuc Nguyen, Hue City) of Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan is the place to preserve the collection of antique pottery fished out of the Huong River. With a rich unique quantity in terms of material and type, the collection of Huong River antique pottery is seen as a unique historical collection of real objects, recording the presence of cultures throughout the millennial history as well as the process of formation and development of the ancient capital.

Nearly 40 years back, the late painter Thai Nguyen Ba and his younger brother together with Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan collected antiques in the Huong River and other rivers in Hue such as the Bo River, O Lau River... as a way to better understand the history of formation and development of ancient Hue. To date, that collection of antique pottery has reached thousands of artifacts including many rare and typical specimens of Sa Huynh - Champa - Dai Viet cultures.

Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery is an appealing cultural destination on the left bank of the Huong River

In the premises of “Thái tộc từ đường” (Thái Lineage Ancestral Temple) nearly 2,500 antiques of all materials such as terracotta, semi-porcelain and porcelain of the historical periods are on exhibition. The vases, jars, kettles, lids, lime pots, plates, bowls, pots, cups... are very well preserved; most of them remain quite intact.

The criteria for selecting exhibits are to represent the historical stages on this land and to tell the stories about the daily lives of ancient residents on Thua Thien Hue land from pre-Sa Huynh, Sa Huynh, Champa times.

Nursing the antique ceramic vases, Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan was delighted that her wish for years has come true: The collection of antique pottery gathered and preserved for years was recognized by the Provincial People's Committee as Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery.

“After many years of collecting and preserving the antique pottery, this is the sentiment of a Hue expatriate, who returned home and gathered all the relics of Hue into a cultural address. Of course, this space remains existent, but when becoming a museum, it is of a different significance. It is popularly recognized as a heritage of Hue,” said Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan.

Exhibition space of the Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery

The birth of the Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery contributes to conserving, promoting and publicizing the value of Hue cultural heritage and forming an appealing cultural and sightseeing destination right on the left bank of the Huong River.

According to Dr. Phan Thanh Hai, Director of the Department of Culture and Sports, Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery is a rather special thematic museum, reflecting almost comprehensively the historical process of formation and development of Hue through ancient pottery in the bed of the Huong River, a famous river associated with the formation and development of Hue City. This is also one of the development directions indispensable for Hue aside from the public museums.

Love for heritage passed down

In preparation for the upcoming launch ceremony, Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan together with her colleagues is rearranging the museum's exhibition space. Among 5,000 artifacts, nearly 2,500 ones were inventoried, classified and exhibited under the themes: “Đi tìm thời gian đã mất” (In search of lost time), “Sông Hương kể chuyện” (Huong River tells stories) và “Gốm cổ trong đời sống văn hóa vật chất, tinh thần của người xưa”          (Antique pottery in the cultural, material and spiritual life of the ancient people)

These ceramic pots preserve much cultural sediment

With the characteristic of being the first thematic museum on Huong River antique pottery in Thua Thien Hue, a place to research, collect, preserve, exhibit, educate, publicize, and promote the values of the Huong River cultural heritage in the long run, the museum is a unique cultural destination for the public to visit, study, learn about the cultural history, and interact and experience activities that recreate the ancient residents’ life, traditional pottery…

Unlike other museums, Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery encourages visitors to touch the artifacts to perceive their roughness and time sediment.

According to Prof. Dr. Thai Kim Lan, the publicity for the museum to develop and become a real cultural address of Hue is a knotty and long-term task.

She shared, “It is our wish that this will be a lively address with many different cultural activities, both preserving and connecting the past with the present. Passing down the love for heritage and culture to the young generation in a scientific way through seminars, education, and experiential workshops on heritage is the goal of the museum in order that this heritage can become an inspiration and creativity for the young generation. Hopefully, this will be an open space to gradually bring the young people back to the cultural and historical values. Also, this museum is a convergence of music, poetry, literary and artistic composition…”

Dr. Nguyen Anh Thu, Faculty of Cultural Heritage, Hanoi University of Culture, who is in charge of the museum's exhibition, arrangement and digitization, said that since its inception, Huong River Museum of Antique Pottery has clearly defined the strategy of modern development and promotion of the values internationally.

The museum prepares brochures, clips, and website, digitizes artifacts and uses many different languages in order to widely introduce the value of artifacts to the world through digital technology. Concurrently, it runs the applications of automatic narration, QR codes and virtual reality experience interaction for visitors to experience, discover, and learn about the stories through antiques. The museum will also scientifically connect with other museums in Vietnam and Southeast Asia so that more and more people can see the treasures of Hue culture.

Story and photos: Minh Hien

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