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Old and New Ceramics in the North

CERAMIC PRODUCTION in Thailand has a long history with wares excavated at the archaeological site of Baan Chiang in the Northeast dating as far back as 3600 B.C. The production of ceramic wares in the North also has a long fascinating history. Celadon ware from northern Thailand have been found in excavations in distant Asian countries. The Mon and Khorm inhabitants of the city Sisatchanalai were producing ceramic components for the building of temples and other wares as early as the 10th century A.D. The Sawankahloke kiln there is famous for the beautiful Celadon wares that were produced there.

Visitors to Chiang Mai have a number of beautiful wares to choose from in choosing a distinctive souvenir to take home with them.

Celadon

The North of Thailand is famous for the production of these distinctive wares, both historically and up to the present day. Besides the eponymous green glazes, as the word celadon is of Sanskrit derivation meaning 'green stone', Chiang Mai artisans produce wares with glazes of golden brown, bronze, and subtle tints of blue as well. Celadon wares are made by firing molded or wheel-turned clay objects in kilns at temperatures up to 1280 degrees C. The characteristic color is achieved by applying a glaze made of black clay, the ash of quercus velutina, and terminalaalate hyeana wood which is fired onto the clay, giving it its characteristic color and crackled texture.

Celadon figures prominently in history of North Thailand. Superior Celadon wares were produced at the Sawankhaloke kiln in the city of Sisatchanalai as early as the 10th century A.D. The city of Sukhothai also became famous for its Celadon wares, which were exported. Recently, numerous examples of fine Sukhothai Celadon have been recovered from excavated shipwrecks of Chinese trading vessels dating back to 15th and 16th centuries.

The visitor to commercial outlets inside Chiang Mai, or to the factories on the outskirts of the city will find an incredible range of products to choose from including fine dinner ware sets, drinking sets, flower vases, figurines and other decorative items, and very attractive lamps. We can recommend these shops: Mengrai Kiln, Siam Celadon, Prempracha Arts and Iyara Art.

Benjarong Ware

This heavily decorated form of ceramic is an art form that was once reserved for the royal family alone. It is uncertain when Benjarong production began in Thailand, but by the reign of Rama II of the present dynasty in the early 19th century, Thai artisans were producing Benjarong ware in Ayuthaya which displayed symbols associated with the Royal House.

The production of Benjarong ware is an incredible labor-intensive process. Decorated with five colors, each different color must be applied to the vessel and successively fired in the kiln five times before the decoration of the piece is complete. The paints used to decorate Benjarong ware are usually made of natural materials, and the colors brighten on the decorated vessels during firing. Benjarong ware is frequently gilded as well to heighten the decoration.

Traditional Benjarong items were designed as items to grace the royal dining table in the form of food containers or tea sets. Decoration might include scenes or symbols associated with the Buddhist religion, the Garuda, the Kinaree, or the royal emblem made up of stylized letters derived from letters the personal names of royalty. Especially characteristic of Benjarong wares is a covered teacup in the Chinese style. A characteristic shape of Benjarong ware is a covered tea cup in the Chinese style. Modern designs include flower vases and other decorative items. Commemorative items are also created as souvenir pieces for special occasions, such as the 16th annual Southeast Asian Games that occurred in Chiang Mai.

We can recommend Prempracha Collection.

Blue and White Wares

Another characteristic ceramic ware produced in both Sankampaeng and Harng Dong are ceramic pieces decorated in blue on a white background. These are under glazed ceramics where the vessel is painted with the white and blue colors before firing. The blue color used in the process is mad from cobalt oxide. After painting, the vessels are fired in a kiln at temperatures as high as 1250 degrees C.

The variety of blue and white ceramic items is virtually endless, with flower vases and other decorative items, dining ware, and other items for the table down to chopstick holders, decorative boxes and many other items.

Antique pieces can be found at Baan Chang Come, Arts & Crafts, Iyara Art.

Khmer Influence

A short time ago one had to travel all the way to Kampuchea (Cambodia) to admire and purchase this distinctive design. Now in Chiangmai a workshop producing handthrown pieces by skilled villagers design a significant range not at all typical of Thai style.

A visit to Lanna Pottery is definitely required.

Terra Cotta and Sandstone

These are the traditional mediums used by Asians when producing Buddhist images. These substances could not stand the test of time as marble used by the Greeks. The feel and natural color of terra cotta and sandstone are very appealing and will definitely last 200 years to pass on to your children.

Dimensional murals depicting mythological folk tales and enchanting figures are found at both Ban Phor Liang Muen and Fine Figure Sandstone Artforms.

Stoneware

Another type of ceramic or pottery that is very popular is known as stoneware. This ceramic are not only made in Chiangmai but it is a major source of income Saraburi, central Thailand. The pieces have that "folk look" and are produced in matte finish in muted colors. These are very beautiful when used in decorating places needing a dramatic effect such as entrances of homes and throughout garden areas.

We offer the above advice because you'll find ceramics in northern Thailand that are never seen anywhere else in the world, and at very reasonable prices. As for shipping, the stores mentioned in this article confidently send ceramics all over the world everyday.

See related articles (Ceramics, Celadon, and Pottery):


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