Potters Pots and Pottery – the Province of Chhnang-Cambodia

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Potters and Ox-carts

Today, scheduled to see a floating village, Chnok True, however turned out the way in was impassable because of the flooding; disappointing. Our guide assured us we would see another floating village on our way across Tonle Sap to Siem Reap. Entry into the town; on the roundabout a huge ceramic pot representing the pottery produced in the Province of Chhnang.  Many, many, interesting sights including these two wonderful – peddlers carts – no-no – they are transport merchants with ox carts, but they so remind me of peddlers carts from eons ago.

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Ox cart carrying pottery by local potters – the Province of Chhnang

 

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Closer look at pots on ox cart – Chhnang Province

The first dray (ox cart) pulled by skinny white cows carrying the work of local potters. What a wonderful sight!  The pots are so cleverly anchored together from the side of the cart and  stuffed with straw to prevent breakages.

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Motor bike towing trailer with pots – Chhnang Province

The second vehicle is more ‘modern‘ with a two-wheeled metal trailer pulled by a motorcycle.The pots all made by local potters for the domestic markets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. The ox cart delivers pottery to the trading ports along Tonle Sap Lake and Tonle Sap River. 

What may look like silver buckets hanging from the side of the ox cart and behind the motorcycle driver, are in fact the New Laos Stove(NLS), a metal covered baked clay stove, designed by Cambodia based NGO,Geres. The design whilst based on the traditional Cambodian clay cooking stove,  has improved grate design and insulation. The Cambodian population (about 90%) depend on wood and charcoal for daily cooking purposes, this has placed the Cambodian forests under severe threat. The New Lao Stove saves 20-30% of wood and charcoal compared to the traditional clay stove.

The NLS stove also provides health benefits with less smoke inside homes to damage lungs and eyes. Money saved buying charcoal or wood can be used to buy more food for the families. The stoves made by villagers in the province; women in particular have learnt this skill, which in turn provides an economic return for their families. The innovate new stove gives a ‘win win’ situation for families and the environment, with each stove providing a real saving on greenhouse gas emissions per year.

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Potters Village Ondong Rossey

Pottery village Chhnang Province

Potters Village’ Ondong Rossey’ Roadside display

Potters Village Ondong Rossey 

Stopping-off at the village of Ondong Rossey where the terracotta pottery originates. On the main drag a large stall displays a range of  attractive pots for sale all made by the local potters.

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Village Home Potters – Pots drying – Chhnang Province

Village home potters

Many of the villagers are now potters and make pottery in their own homes and have pots on display or drying in their front yards. The pottery made in the ‘off season’ to their rice-growing and harvesting. The village and the province has many potters, some who work solely in the manufacture of the New Laos Stove (NLS).

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Brick Kiln and wood for firing – Chhnang Province

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Pottery and pots

The visit to the actual pottery at Ondong Rossey  is interesting to see, with a wood-fired brick-kiln in situ, pots thrown on a kick-wheel or made by hand. The potters were very engaging and we watched two very pleasant ladies demonstrate their skills in wheel-throwing and hand-made clay ware. Very clever and skilfully done, all with a beautiful smile. The clay is light in color until fired, it then becomes a bright terracotta-red after the kiln firing process.

The potters craft  handed down over centuries is now enjoying a resurgence in  the Province of ChhnangCambodian pottery is an ancient craft dating back to the Angkor Kingdom (802-1431). The years of the Khmer Rouge took it toll on teachers and students in the arts and crafts, as it did in every field of education and intellect.  A group of Japanese potters arrived in 2009 to train residents of Ondong Rossey in modern practices, the kick wheels and  kiln installation part of this project. Japan also has a long history in pottery and skilled potters.

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Potter making hand-made pottery pieces

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Kiln fired pots turn an attractive bright terra-cotta color – Chhnang Province

Next Battambang, which is on the banks of the Stung Sangke River, and is the second largest city in Cambodia…. 


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