Pottery of Thailand


Ban Chiang National Museum, Udon Thani
    Handsome pots dating back more than 5,000 years have been found at Ban Chiang in northeastern Thailand, and the art of shaping and firing clay has continued to the present day. Simple earthenware vessels are still used for cooking and storage, while more sophisticated glazed pottery is also being produced by methods introduced from China 700 years.


    Decorative items influenced from India and China

    Almost every region of the country has its own traditional pottery. The north, for example, makes fine low-fired pots and water jugs, lightly glazed with terra cotta and oil to make them capable of holding liquids; by northern custom, one of these pots is placed outside most temples and private homes so that thirsty strangers can stop and refresh themselves. Dark brown pottery in a wide variety of shapes, from flower pots to fanciful animals, is produced at kilns near the northeastern city of Nakhon Ratchasima and Ratchaburi, west of Bangkok, is noted for its beautifully decorated water storage jars, yellowish-green in color and adorned with dragons and swirling floral motifs.


    Dark brown pottery jars decorated with dragon motifs produced in Ratchaburi

    According to tradition, the art of making delicate, blue-green celadon began at the end of the 13th century, when King Ramkhamhaeng of Sukhothai brought 300 Chinese potters to his kingdom. Within a short time, the high-fired stoneware was being traded throughout Southeast Asia, all the way to the Philippines and Indonesia.
    The celadon industry declined with Sukhothai but has been revived in recent years in the northern city of Chiang Mai. The technique is still the same as in ancient times, using a clear glaze made from feldspar, limestone, sh, and a small amount of red clay. The wood used for firing the kilns comes from a small jungle tree that grows north of Chiang Mai, the ash of which is supposed to help impart the typical celadon color. Several companies are now making the stoneware, which is becoming a noted Thai export once again.