known as Thailand's center for ceramics. Once thick with forests,
it is here where white clay is heat - resistant and, mixed in
the right consistency, has a fine texture that makes it ideal
for making terracotta and glazed ceramics.
area was once occupied by the ancient Lanna Empire, which spread
over Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun and Phayao. Tucked comfortably
in a valley,
Chiang Mai - Lamphun and Chiang Rai - Phayao represented the two
main plateaux of the empire. Known as Haripunchai, Chiang Mai -
Lamphun subsequently expanded to include Kelang Nakhon, or
Lampang, Meanwhile, Chiang Rai - Payao in those days was known
to an ancient inscription, Haripunchai was seized by Phraya
Mengrai, who then built Chiang Mai as his kingdom's capital. The
construction, which started in B.E. 1839 (1296 A.D.) was
witnessed by Phya Ngum Muang of Phayao and Phra Ruang of
Apparently, the three kings were close friends and their
kingdoms were so closely related that they were like a
consolidated nation. Territorial boundaries made no difference
to the peoples of the three kingdoms, Who enjoyed an
exceptionally active trade relations. As a memorial to such
friendly links, a monument of the three kings was built and they
now stand immortalized in front of the Chiang Mai City Hall.
the death of Phya Ngum Muang and Phraya Mengrai, Phayao became
an annex of Lanna. Research on the history of ceramics can be
done with minimal difficulty through artifacts from the Lanna
have unearthed remains of ancient kilns at Wiang Galong, a
village in Wiang Pa Pao District of Chiang Rai which adjoins
Wiang Nua District at the northern tip of Lampang. The area is
on the Laotian Basin where the ceramic industry developed as
shown by over 200 kilns found in excavations. Ceramics excavated
showed the unique design known as Galong.
Sukhothai, archaeologists also found huge Duriang kilns strewn
over a wide area. So many kilns were excavated that they had to
be housed in a specially built museum for educational purpose.
Particularly of interest to young people and scholars alike are
the kilns left in site, that is, in the place where they have
been found, complete with bowls of the Sukhothai period.
to the archaeological finds, we now know that the people of the
Lanna and the Sukhothai Empires did not engage only in
agriculture or animal husbandry; they also made ceramics which
they sold locally and overseas.
from the ancient kilns have fine shapes. The glaze indicates a
certain level of sophistication achieved only through patience
and years of practice, with a lot of time spent on a single
piece of ceramic. Furthermore, the designs on the ceramics
reflect a strong sense of dedication on the part of the artisans
who tirelessly worked on the clay. The designs are derived
mostly from nature; the Galong design, for instance, features
flowers commonly found in the locality.
is also a prominent feature in the ceramic art of Sukhothai.
Apparently, Sukhothai artisans used celadon to glaze their
products. Unlike the Galong trend, the
is the most common design on the ceramics, as elephants were
considered auspicious animals that roamed the woods of the north
in great numbers.
glaze gives the ceramics a dark or light green or brown finish.
By combining it with certain minerals, the clay turns into
colors which today win the hearts of people around the globe for
their beauty and value.
ceramics came from the Chuan Long kiln in Lamphun where the
glaze practice of Wiang Galong and Sukhothai has been preserved.
What is added is the design on the ceramics which is more
contemporary with scenes from today's lifestyle. As such, it
represents a form of applied art with abvious traces of ancient
the ancient technique has been faithfully followed, the end
results look impressively like antique ceramics rather than
reproductions. This explains the popularity of Chuan Long
ceramics among Thais and foreigners alike. But more importantly,
an ancient form which
makes a part of the Thai heritage has been revived from oblivion
and preserved for future generations.