Traditional brick making village in the Delta

In the Mekong Delta province of Vinh Long lies a ‘red kingdom’ with egg-shaped brick kilns lined up along the banks of the Co Chien River.

Traditional kilns seen from above – PHOTOS: ADRIEN JEAN

The traditional village is home to mostly brick and pottery factories, which produce a wide range of handmade potteries, ranging from vases, pots and jars to statues. During the 1980s, some 3,000 traditional kilns were operating there. Yet this number went down to only a few still operating because the majority of traditional brick kilns have been replaced by modern counterparts around the country.

Luckily, a visitor to the village can still witness the whole process of making bricks—from choosing clay, kneading it, putting it in molds and shaping to drying the raw bricks under the sun and putting them in the kilns. It takes brick makers a few days to gather sufficient raw materials. Then, clay bricks are baked for about two weeks. Keeping the right temperature in the kiln is crucial and requires expertise. These temperatures can get very high and workers, mostly women, have to toil in hard conditions.

A woman is molding flower pots in a factory
Floor tiles are let dry
The opening of a traditional kiln
Pots are lined up before being baked
Pottery products ready to be baked in the kiln
This worker is keeping the kiln at the right temperature
These bricks have been baked in a traditional kiln
Broken bricks being removed at a factory
Women are packing floor tiles before shipping
Floor tiles are stacked up
Tiles loaded on a boat to be sold elsewhere