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    Thai antiquities art and priceless works

    Thai ceramics refers to pottery designed or produced in the kingdoms and territories that today belong to the Kingdom of Thailand, formerly Siam. The tradition of Thai ceramics dates back to the third millennium CE.

    Much of Thai pottery and ceramics in the later centuries was influenced by Chinese ceramics, but has always remained distinct by mixing indigenous styles with preferences for unique shapes, colours and decorative motifs.

    Thai pottery and ceramics were an essential part of the trade between Thai and its neighbours during feudalistic times, throughout many dynasties.


    Thai ceramics show a continuous development through different clay types and methods of manufacturing since the prehistoric period and are one of the most common Thai art forms. The first type of Thai ceramics ever recorded was the Ban Chiang, dating back to about 3600 CE. Sukhothai ware, the most famous style of Thai ceramics, is exported to many countries around the world today.

    The earliest trace of Thai ceramics ever recorded is the Ban Chiang, said to date back to about 3600 BCE and found in what is the present day Udon Thani Province, Thailand. The ceramics were earthenware made of clay. Common forms of excavated artifacts were cylinders and round vases. The early pots were undecorated while the later ones were carved with geometric patterns and swirling designs. Each of the pieces was also found to have axial perforations which showed that people at that time had knowledge of using tools.

    The second important prehistoric Thai ceramics is the Ban Kao which was in Kanchanburi Province. Unlike Ban Chiang, Ban Kao's wares were thinner and had a glossy surface finish. What is interesting is that there are a wide range of forms and shapes, some of which are similar to bronze wares of Han China.

    After the prehistoric period the kingdom that emerged at about 1st century CE was the Mons. They made considerable ceramics uses in relation to religious symbols in the form of figurines. Ceramics were also used as a building decorations.

    Following the Mons were the Khmers who appeared in about the 9th century CE Little is known about Khmer ceramics because archaeological research has focused on their great achievements in stone and bronze sculpture. The ceramics of Khmer era are quite interesting. Many of the designs include parts from animal and have a dark brown glaze finish.

    The best known of all traditional Thai ceramics are those from Sukhothai and Sawankhalok. Sukhothai wares were generally treated with a creamy white slip and decorated in black with an opaque or greenish glaze. The most famous Sukhothai kiln is the Si Satchanalai. Examples of the wares can be found in many leading museums of the world. Sawanakhalok products tend to be more finely made than the Sukhothai ones. These products are incised and often include animal shapes. Some of the original examples can be found in many private collections and museums today. Ceramics based on these styles are still made at present and widely exported, particularly to the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Painted ceramic bowl with base, Lopburi 2300 BCE. Bang Chiang culture.



    One of the most famous examples of Thai pottery are from the Sukhothai period from the kilns of S(r)i Satchanalai, which is around Sawankalok in north-central Thailand. This period started in the 13th century CE and continued until the 16th century. The art reached its apex in the 14th century. Examples of Si Satchanalai can be found in many leading museums of the world.

    Sukothai traded with these precious ceramics with its neighbours. The transport was often by ship across the oceans. A number of Si Satchanalai ceramics in excellent condition have been excavated in ship wrecks in the Gulf of Thailand, the Andaman Sea and other waters

    Box with a lid, 13th-14th century



    Covered hanging jar with underglaze decoration, 14th-16th century


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    Traditional Thai paintings showed subjects in two dimensions without perspective. The size of each element in the picture reflected its degree of importance. The primary technique of composition is that of apportioning areas: the main elements are isolated from each other by space transformers. This eliminated the intermediate ground, which would otherwise imply perspective. Perspective was introduced only as a result of Western influence in the mid-19th century.

    The most frequent narrative subjects for paintings were or are: the Jataka stories, episodes from the life of the Buddha, the Buddhist heavens and hells, themes derived from the Thai versions of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, not to mention scenes of daily life. Some of the scenes are influenced by Thai folklore instead of following strict Buddhist iconography.

    A depiction of a white elephant in 19th century Thai art


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    If you have ever wandered along the waterfront near the Grand Palace in Bangkok you'll find a Thai antique Buddha traders market.

    Worth a look but take a magnifying glass to study the detail.

    A few pics of antique Buddha's..










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    The historic origins of the Victoria & Albert's Thai collection lie in acquisitions made largely during the period from the mid 19th to the late 20th centuries. More recently important acquisitions of early sculpture and metalwork from the 7th to the 9th centuries, including pieces from the collection of Alexander Biancardi, have further strengthened these holdings. The collection has been additionally enhanced in the last few years by the bequest of objects formerly belonging to Doris Duke, the renowned American collector of South East Asian art.


    The Arts of Thailand display features the museum's finest Thai Buddhist sculptures in bronze and stone spanning the period from the 7th to the 19th centuries together with works of decorative art in a wide variety of media associated both with the Thai court and with monasteries. These include carved ivory, niello ware, silver and gold repoussť work, wood and lacquer offering dishes overlaid with mother of pearl and the unusual porcelain Bencharong ('Five Colour') vessels made for the Thai court and nobility in the kilns of China.

    The range of the display has been extended by the inclusion of a painting illustrating a Jataka scene from a former life of the Buddha and an astrologer's illustrated handbook. A spectacular focus for one of the cases is provided by a late 19th century diamond encrusted belt and pendant necklace on loan to the museum from the Thai royal family and formerly owned by Queen Saowabha Pongsri, Queen to King Rama 5th of Thailand (1868-1910).




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    The representation of Buddha is omnipresent and reveals, whatever the material (bronze, terracotta, stucco or stone), a great iconographic originality. Furthermore – and it is a unique case in Southeast Asia – large free-standing wheels, quintessential symbols of Buddhist law, draw inspiration from the Indian model, which is the source of all Southeast Asian arts. These wheels, in fact, go back to the very first Buddhistic art of ancient India, that of the Mauryan emperors (4th-11th century BC).

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