11 July 2024

From a sixteenth-century blue-green glaze jarlet from Sukhothai to an Arita figurine created around the same period in Japan, the peerless ceramic exhibition at the Bangkok National Museum will appeal to all.

The exhibition “Endless Epic of Japanese-Thai Ceramic Relationship in the World’s Trade and Culture” runs until December 14 at Siwamokhaphiman Hall. The special event, co-organized by Thailand’s Fine Arts Department and Japan’s Saga Prefecture, honors Her Majesty Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday as well as Her Majesty’s dedicated work in promoting crafts and ceramic works.

The showcase features a selection of the finest Thai and Japanese porcelain and ceramic works created around the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.

More than 90 exhibits from the Kyushu Ceramic Museum in southern Japan are on display.

Some of the Japanese ceramics on display in the exhibition at Bangkok National Museum. (Photo by Fine Arts Dept)

For centuries, Arita town on Kyushu island in southern Japan has been known for the finest porcelains and ceramics. Early Arita porcelains were typically made in the Chinese style of the time, with blue-and-white patterns. A new style was invented in the 1640s, characterized by bright colors and bold patterns, primarily in red.

Visitors and ceramic enthusiasts can expect to see Arita’s finest ceramic works at the Bangkok National Museum, among them the figurine of a boy holding down a catfish with a gourd in overglaze polychrome enamels (1670-1700) and the whisk-shaped bottle with a peony design also in overglaze polychrome enamels (1650-1660).

Along with the Japanese ceramics, there are 90 pieces of Thai ceramic from Si Satchanalai on display.

Blue-green glaze jarlet with two looped handles (14th-16th centuries CE) uncovered in Si Satchanalai, northern Thailand. (Photo by Fine Arts Dept)

Si Satchanalai, 60 kilometers north of Sukhothai, had been a pottery center for centuries thanks to the abundance of clay along the Yom River. Local ceramists worked on Mon pottery in the sixth century before adopting Chinese design and technique with blue-and-white porcelain and blue-green glazed wares. Si Satchanalai ceramics flourished in the seventeenth century when ceramists exported items such as pottery, jars, teapots, spoons, and dolls throughout Southeast Asia and further afield, including to Japan.

The finest ceramics from early Si Satchanalai kilns, including the blue-green glaze jarlet with two looped handles, are on display at the exhibition alongside Arita’s famous works.

A figurine of a boy holding down a catfish with a gourd in overglaze polychrome enamels (1670-1700) from Arita, Japan, on exhibition in Bangkok. (Photo by Fine Arts Dept)

Bound by the clay

The exhibition “Endless Epic of Japanese-Thai Ceramic Relationship in the World’s Trade and Culture” also marks the 135th anniversary of Japan-Thailand diplomatic relations.

To celebrate this long relationship, the Fine Arts Department of Thailand and Japan’s Saga Prefecture are hosting a series of ceramic workshops until December. Enthusiasts can sign up for plate-making and underglaze workshops.

Registration for the workshops can be made at shorturl.at/aiqu5

Whisk-shaped bottle with peony design in overglaze polychrome enamels (1650-1660) from Kyushu Ceramic Museum. (Photo by Fine Arts Dept)

IF YOU GO

The Bangkok National Museum is located next to Salam Luang (Royal Field) and is about a 10-minute Tuk-Tuk ride from Sanam Chai MRT station. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday (9am-4pm ).