Thai Ceramics and Pottery

Thai ceramics and pottery

Thai ceramics and pottery have long been part of its history since prehistoric times, playing an integral role during feudal times as trade goods with neighboring nations.

Sukhothai ware was one of the best-known Thai ceramics, exported to many different countries around the globe. Sawankhalok also produced numerous shapes and glazes of ceramics.

Origins

Thai ceramics and pottery date back to early prehistoric periods. Archeological sites across Thailand have unearthed an assortment of ceramic artifacts with some dating as far back as 3600 BCE.

Early examples found in this region include earthenware jars and cylinders decorated using various techniques and designs.

Ceramics from this region were also traded with other communities and often played an instrumental role in helping establish trade relationships due to an abundance of raw materials in this area and the skill of local artisans.

But production of ceramics in this area was interrupted sometime after 1400, possibly as a result of Chinese export restrictions imposed upon them under Ming Hongwu’s Edict (1371-1398).

Si Satchanalai near Sawankalok in northern Thailand also produced ceramics during the Sukhothai kingdom; their kilns became renowned for their quality.

At Si Satchanalai, it appears that many artifacts were inspired by Chinese pottery styles, with shapes and glazes that reflect these characteristics, as well as some items featuring patters or designs on their surfaces.

During the Sukhothai Period, the kingdom sent artists to China in order to learn ceramic art; some returned home with this knowledge as evidenced by patterns on some ceramic pieces which closely resemble Chinese traditional patterns.

Some ancient Thai wares were manufactured until 1560s in Sukhothai Kingdom due to Burmese invasions and Ming sea ban policy, after which production stopped due to private collectors or museums in Bangkok. Today these rare artifacts can only be found among private collections or some museums.

Styles

Thai ceramics and pottery have long been part of Thai culture and tradition. It is an attractive form of decorative art featuring various forms, glazes, and decorations.

Thai ceramic styles reflect its diverse cultural influences, which include China and Vietnam. Chinese traders dominated East/Southeast Asian maritime trade routes for ceramic exports until Ming Hongwu period’s closed door policy made Vietnamese and Thai potters the main providers of Asian glazed wares by 15th century.

Thailand is well known for its numerous kilns, but Si Satchanalai and Sukhothai stand out as particularly notable examples. Situated around Sawankalok in north-central Thailand, these facilities produced monochrome white-glazed ceramics as well as underglaze black products.

Sukhothai period saw significant advancements to Thai ceramic ware, most notably opaque brown and white glazed pieces that became an integral component.

This type of pottery features an incised motif and is decorated with black specks. Although its clay material may not be of excellent quality, it is covered in a creamy white slip before being glazed and decorated further.

Possible influences for this style could have included iron-painted wares from Cizhou due to similarities in decoration and stacking bowls/plates technique.

Many examples of Thai pottery can still be seen today and can be found in museum collections. It is commonly used as decorations in Thai homes and altars as well as an integral feature on temple stele.

The Sangkhalok Period was an epoch-making era for Thai ceramics, producing some of its finest creations during the 14th century. Ceramic wares made during this era also utilized stone, with designs and forms similar to Chinese porcelain pieces.

Techniques

Thailand ceramics and pottery production involves several methods, including the kneading of silicate-based microstructures, handbuilding, wheel throwing or slip casting to form shapes, drying and firing before decorating with glazes and painting techniques.

Northern Thailand was home to many kilns, particularly at Lanna and Sukhothai. These kilns produced various styles of pottery with different shapes and colors used both domestically as well as on foreign markets.

While much of the pottery produced at these two sites resembles Chinese celadon ware, there are distinct Thai styles as well. For instance, Sawankhalok ceramic ware differed significantly in that its clay body did not feature porcelain-like characteristics such as Chinese celadon; rather it featured grayer tones and opaqueness that is unique to Thai pottery styles.

Surface decoration on this style of ware was similar to Chinese blue and white ware, featuring flowers, birds, and fish patterns painted with a black underglaze technique rather than transparent glaze used on Chinese blue and white ware.

Underglaze iron black decoration on these wares is very distinct, creating an energetic and vibrant appearance. Motifs usually consist of floral designs; however, geometrical elements or abstract designs could also be included as part of this vibrant artwork.

Ceramic wares produced at both Lanna and Sukhothai were similar in style, yet different due to production methods. Sukhothai produced black underglaze wares using grainy and coarse clay bodies while Lanna created finer clay bodies; both methods included dipping their works in white slip prior to applying black underglaze decoration with brushes.

Materials

Thai ceramics and pottery are handcrafted using locally available clay, while more sophisticated techniques allow more elaborate pieces to be produced. Each material used can be formed into various shapes with intricate designs on it for decorative use.

Thai ceramics range from simple earthenware pots from rural villages to more intricate works created using stoneware and glazes; often exported to China or other Asian nations.

Thai ceramics is widely known for its use of vegetable motifs on various vessels, which typically feature abstract designs. Sometimes you may also come across traditional plant designs on pots or bowls.

Thai pottery was distinguished by the use of gold paint, an integral component of ceramic decoration in Thailand due to gold being an important currency at this time.

We feature an assortment of ceramic pieces in our collection that come from various forms and styles of ceramics including jars, bottles, bowls and plates with various kinds of glazes and decorations. One particularly noteworthy find in our collection are two superb 14th century pots from Sawankhalok region of Thailand near Chang Mai that date to 14th century.

These pots feature delicate shapes with exquisite surface detail. Though not quite as smooth and light-looking as Chinese fine bone blue and white ware, these pieces exude movement and grace.

Sangkhalok wares were produced during the Sukhothai Period (1238 to 1438) in Si Satchanalai district in north central Thailand and display Chinese influence in their shapes and glazing, yet possess an evident connection to earlier Thai ceramics that date back to 13th century Thailand.

Appearance

Thai ceramics and pottery are traditionally created through two traditional shaping methods – hand modeling and wheel throwing. Modern Thai potteries supplement this practice with electric wheels to achieve uniform sizes for flat pieces as well as more complex shapes.

Thai pottery utilizes fine-grained clay varieties with high iron content that produce black inclusions that may also show streaks of red or silver colors.

Celadon vessels (dishes, bowls and bottles) were an important export cargo during the 15th and 16th centuries, being produced in various sizes and styles and exported to markets in China, Indonesia and Malaysia.

Sawankhalok/Si Satchanalai celadon dishes, bowls and vases exported during Sukhothai’s rule were exported in large volumes for export; several shipwrecks including Nanyang, Longquan and Royal Nanhai feature these pieces as artefacts.

Shards from Sukhothai can also be found during land excavations in the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia; however, these pieces tend to be less common and of lower quality than their counterparts from Sukhothai.

Dark brown glaze vessels were exported during this period and include jars, coconut-shaped vessels with two lugs, and vases.

These wares were produced using the same process as Si-Satchanalai and Sukhothai pottery, yet feature finer clay with larger black spots. Their creation has often been linked with Chinese influence; however, more evidence points towards Vietnam iron-painted wares being directly involved.

Ceramic bejarongs make unique and beautiful handmade gifts that are suitable for any special event or celebration. Dating back centuries to royal palaces around Asia, bejarong ceramics represent breathtaking displays of artistic mastery.