One village where a 200-year-old tradition continues is Kwan Arman. Located on the small island of Koh Kred in the Chao Phraya River
a short boat ride from the center of Bangkok, this haven of tranquillity is home to a group of ethnic Mons. Their ancestors originally came from Mon
(a country now part of southern and central Burma) at a time when Thonburi, not Bangkok, was the Thai capital. In 1757 Hongsawdi, the capital of the Mon state, was attacked and destroyed by Burmese
troops and thousands of Mon people were forced to take refuge in Thailand. Many settled on Koh Kred where they quickly built kilns and began to re-established their traditional craft of producing high-quality pottery.
A punting boat brings pottery to customer
Earthenware water jars have been used in Kingdom from before the Ayutthaya period to store and keep rainwater cool. That jars are strikingly similar to those produced centuries ago.
Made from clay once sourced locally, but now brought in from Phathum Thani, they are carefully incised by hand with ornate decorations. Each jar is capped with a distinctive pointed lid, shaped like the temple chedis
so prominent in Buddhist society. To promote evaporation and thus cooling, the goundshaped jars are left unglazed and placed on raised perforated stands to encourage air circulation. Recently, a museum was opened on the island which houses an
impressive collection of beautifuuly made jars, some dating back to the time of the arrival of the Mons.
Quick, fluid movements and strength ensure that the clay rises from the wheel head and is skillfully shaped into bowls. The entire process -- from lump of clay to shaped pot -- takes just over a minute. A thrower here can produce
between 300 and 700 pots a day depending on the size, a truly impressive combination of expertise and stamina.