Nestled at the foot of a mountain in Kampong Chhnang (which literally translates to ’Port of Pottery’) province in Cambodia is a small settlement by the name of Andong Russei. Nearly all of the village’s households are involved in the ceramics trade, largely in part to the neighbouring Krang Dei Meas, or ‘Golden Mountain’, their primary source of high quality clay.
The Time-Honoured Craft of Pottery
This ancient craft has been passed down for many, many generations – over 1,500 years, in fact. Traditionally, creating clay pots is a strenuous process done completely by hand. To make a vase, for example, the mould is kept in a stationary position while the craftsman walks countless concentric circle around it, carefully shaping and whacking the clay with a small wooden paddle as they go. For larger items, the woman will lay the item in their lap and turn it while beating away. It’s quite fascinating how they are able to effortlessly form round and symmetrical pots – a skill which takes many years to perfect.
That is, until quite recently when the younger generation was introduced to the throwing wheel. With this somewhat ‘modern’ technology, artisans are now able to churn out ceramics at a much faster rate than before. This is quite beneficial for the locals, as an increasing number of tourists are making their way to Cambodia’s epicentre of pottery to witness this time-honoured tradition and purchasing souvenirs to take home.
Visiting Andong Russei in Kampong Chhnang Province
The capital of Kampong Chhnang province (also named Kampong Chhnang) is located 80 km (50 mi) upstream from Phnom Penh on the Tonle Sap River. From here, Andong Russei, is just a short 5 km (3 mi) ride through the rustic countryside. And, as in much of rural Cambodia, villagers are always eager to welcome outsiders to the community. Expect some warm smiles and kind-hearted “hellos” as you make your way through their charming village!
Heritage Line is proud to offer 7-night and 4-night lower Mekong River cruises which include Kampong Chhnang as part of the itinerary. Two of our luxurious boutique vessels, Heritage Line The Jahan and Jayavarman, discover vibrant green landscapes, ancient temples and enchanting riverside villages in the lesser-travelled regions of Vietnam and Cambodia.