Thanh Hà
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Unlikely Art from Unlikely Hands
One overcast day in Hoi An, my husband and I wandered down to the river and found a lady and her 2 young daughters willing to row us about 30 minutes up river, to a pottery-making village we had read about. When we arrived, the little girls decided to be our impromptu guides. They led us from house to house, where we watched villagers at their craft. As we were nearing the end of our “tour,” we wandered past a house where a very old woman was sitting on the ground, shaping a jar on a small wooden wheel. She smiled warmly and waved us in. We watched in amazement as she expertly shaped and smoothed each jar. Fortunately for us, a younger woman there spoke English and told us that the woman was her 88 year-old grandmother! She told us every generation of her family learns this skill and participates in one way or another. I wandered around the make-shift shelves displaying their work, and then I found it! A beautiful teapot, with six small Asian-style teacups; lovingly painted with red dragonflies and green leaves. The young woman told me that her grandmother had made it, and she herself had painted it…. It was exactly what I was looking for. Now back in the US, every time I look at my teapot, I have the joy of knowing the hands that made it. You can visit Thanh Ha village by boat or bicycle from Hoi An. Definitely save your dollars and use them there. Many of the villagers are barely scraping by as most of the pottery is now being mass-produced in factories.
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