Since 2005, on the construction site of Phu Truong (Ham Thuan Bac – Binh Thuan), people have found a number of pieces of ceramic and terra-cotta tiles. Later, the Binh Thuan Museum has made a test and analysis to show that this site used to be an area for ceramics kiln dating back 10th -11th centuries and of Champa people.
Realizing the feasibility of the relic, the Museum of Vietnamese History (now the VNMH Museum) has collaborated with the Binh Thuan Department of Cultures, Sports and Tourism to do an excavation on the site.
The site where the kiln was
The kiln ruin was located in an area where the Champa people lived, next to the coastal of Phan Thiet. Far from 5km to the north is the archaeological relic of Bau Hoe (dating back the Late Stone Age to the Early Iron Age). Next by, there were traces found for the burial jars of Sa Huynh Culture. At the moment, citizens are mainly Kinh groups that migrated from Quang Ngai and Phu Yen provinces in the 19th-20th centuries.
The ruin of Phu Truong Kiln
The excavation was made by digging 4 holes in different points on an area of 56m2. The results are as followed:
In the first hole: we found a trace or a part of the kiln base in 0,4m thick (3 layers in different colors). Another part of kiln base is 3,8m x 4,4m wide. The base was a composite of earth turning into terra-cotta as the impact of firing, and in grey white and red brown colors. The attached objects are terra-cotta vessels and the kiln wall, dating back as by late 19th century, early 20th century.
Hole no. II & III: we found the scraps, ashes, samples of terra-cotta vessels with same date as that of the first one. With big quantity of scraps and ashes (in thickness of 0,8m), it says the kiln had been operated for a long duration.
Phu Truong terra-cotta vessels
Phu Truong terra-cotta lamp base samples
Hole IV: 0,9m depth, sloping from west to east, with 2 layers: the first layer is 0,2-0,4m thick, containing construction materials (tiles), ashes and samples of terra-cotta vessels, the second layer is 0,15-0,5m thick, containing broken pieces of tiles dating back 20th century. It says there was a kiln existed but might be the kiln for firing the construction materials, so it is different from the previous holes. According to the types of materials, that kiln has a date as later than others or at the 20th century.
Construction materials found in Phu Truong Kiln
The fired objects of Phu Truong Kiln mainly are terra-cotta vessels and lamps, pots, casting forms, censors, cuspidors, monkey statues, lion statues...
In conclusion, through the traces found in the hole 1, it says Phu Truong Kiln had faced northern south direction or to the old water stream to secure the wind power. The kiln based was sloping from north to south. The kiln was made by digging into the earth and constructing the wall. After each time of firing, the wall was destroyed, but leaving the bottom for the next firing. In Phu Truong area, it had 2 kinds of firing kiln, one for the terra-cotta wares (holes I,II,III) and the other for tiles (hole IV), lasting from the 19th century to the early 20th century.
Obviously, through study about the relics, we have a chance to know about the development and history of the region. This area used to be homeland of Champa people (previously Sa Huynh Culture). But it had a change in the inhabitants. At the moment, the citizens are mainly from Central shifted in the 19th - 20th centuries. When the Champa people changed their inhabitance, they had left favorable conditions of geography and environment for the newcomers. The mounds which were used for building the firing kilns, with the water and natural resources were continued to be exploited. In reality, the objects found in the kiln ruin considerably match with the history as explained.
Dr. Nguyen Van Doan (Deputy Director of VNMH Museum)
EN: Tran Trang