Located on Tran Phu Street, the Museum of Trade Ceramics focuses on bringing to life the golden years of Hoi An when it was the center of trade in Southeast Asia. The usual commodities on trade were silk, spices, textiles, porcelain wares and ceramics. A collection of ancient ceramics captures the lifestyle of Hoi An’s early settlers and seafarers who traded with nearby Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Indonesia. The museum highlights the rich history of this seaside city through the pieces of ceramics on display.
History of Hoi An
According to archaeological finds and excavations, the Sa Huynh people, early settlers along the Thu Bon River, began trading as early as the 2nd century. The trades flourished through the centuries and by the 16th Century through the 18th Century, this was the busiest port in Southeast Asia. It was also through this harbor that Christianity reached Vietnam around this time. By the end of the 18th Century, other ports in Vietnam began to flourish as well, including the nearby Da Nang port. Since then, Hoi An decreased in popularity and economic significance until it slowed down to a halt. This standstill allowed the city to preserve its original appearance at the turn of the 19th Century. This is the only town in Vietnam that was able to preserve its early appearance.
The Old Town of Hoi An city is on the north bank of the Thu Bon River. The houses and buildings here are in the old architectural style of the 19th and 20th centuries. There are rows of ancient pagodas, temples, meeting houses, and homes, and other interesting relics such as the Japanese Covered Bridge and Bale Well. Among the centuries-old buildings is where the Museum of Trade Ceramics is located.
About the Museum
The museum follows the traditional Vietnamese architectural style, with two stories, a courtyard and an anteroom that are all open to the public. On display are more than 430 ceramic artifacts, mostly coming from China, Japan, India and the Middle East, dating back from the 8th Century to the 18th Century; ancient pottery pieces from the Chinese Tang Dynasty (7th-10th Centuries), 7th-10th Century Middle East, and 15th Century Vietnam. During these times, Hoi An was known as Fai Fo, which means “seaside city”. Its main international trade included pottery from China, Japan and Thailand, according to the archeological finds. Some antiques on display have been salvaged from a ship that sank to the bottom of the sea in 1733, while most have been unearthed by archeologists all over the city of Hoi An.
Today, the main industry in Hoi An, other than tourism, is fishing. The sea still plays a very important role in the lives of the local townsfolk. The goal of the Museum of Trade Ceramics is to prove that this humble, sleepy fishing town used to dominate international trade in this part of the continent. The artifacts on display could not have arrived in Hoi An if the city did not play an important role in international trade through the centuries. Visitors may enter the museum daily from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM upon purchase of a ticket into the Old Town.