Thailand shopping - ceramics

Earthenware vessels have existed on Thai soil since the prehistoric Ban Chiang period. Sukhothai potters first produced the typically monochromatic celadon stoneware in the 12th century. The flamboyant multicolored bencharong originated some two hundred years later.

With the introduction of exciting new glazing techniques and colors, celadon is now available in a variety of rich and lustrous hues as well as its original opague green. Many international luxury hotels and resorts choose Thai celadon tableware and large vases for their properties. Smaller, suitcase-sized celadon treasures include bathroom accessories and small bowls. Equally popular is earth-toned tableware from talented local stoneware potters.

Architecs and landscapers use reproductions of the terracotta bas-reliefd and sculptures that once adorned temples in northeastern Thailand as visual elements for international resorts and private dwellings. Smaller versions of these ancient temple gods and goddesses are widely available in many shapes and styles. They even come as keyrings!

Chiang Mai is the centre of Thailand's ceramics industry. Among it most prized items is the distinctive Celadon pottery, so named for its unique glaze , the result of certain ingredients mixed with wood and ashes applied in a carefully controlled step by step process.

Skill and experience on the part of the craftsman are paramount for the process. Producing Celadon requires a great deal of time, care and concentration.

The clay is first treated with additives which are then let in the shade and thrown. After bisque firing at a temperature of 800 C, the glaze is applied. The piece is then placed in the kiln for a second firing at a temperature of 1,250 C, which gives the Celadon its inimitable, finely cracked finish.

The celadon ceramics are best bought direct from the potteries in Chiang Mai where the top producer is Mengrai Klins, but it is also available in Bangkok from Thai Celadon House and many craft shops including those on Silom and Charoen Krung roads.Great choice of pottery can be purchased in Bangkok from Chatuchak Market. Lampang is notable for its fine blue and white ceramics, produced by companies such as Indra Ceramics.

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