A bond formed in the clay

“The never-ending epic of the relationship between Japanese and Thai ceramics in world trade and culture”. (Photos: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

The weather service predicts heavy rain for this week, and today is a public holiday. The National Museum Bangkok is the perfect retreat if you want to enjoy the art while getting away from the downpours.

Until December 14, the exhibition “The Endless Epic Of Japanese – Thai Ceramic Relationship In The World‘s Trade And Culture” is on display at the Siwamokkhaphiman Throne Hall to commemorate the 90th birthday of HM Queen Sirikit the Queen Mother and the 135th anniversary of Thai-Japanese relationship. diplomatic relations.

Siam and Ryukyu (the modern Japanese island of Okinawa) have longstanding trade ties dating back to the Ayutthaya period. Ayutthaya’s first ship reached Nagasaki in 1612 and offered a shark skin to Shogun Tokugawa leyasu.

Looking around, visitors can travel back in time to the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when Nagasaki served as an international entrepot linking East and West before the two countries signed the Declaration of Commerce and Friendship in 1887.

It is a collaboration between the Department of Fine Arts and the Prefecture of Saga to promote cultural exchanges. The exhibition is divided into six areas and features 97 pieces of traditional Arita porcelain from the Kyushu Ceramics Museum as well as a collection of 90 ceramic objects from the National Museum of Thailand and private collectors.

Once inside, visitors can learn about the evolution of ceramics in Japan and Thailand, both in terms of international trade and culture. Japan began to develop Jomon pottery in intricately patterned vessels between 4000 and 5000 BC. and adopted natural ash glaze, high-fire techniques from the Korean Peninsula to produce blue-gray stoneware (Sue ware) pottery during the Asuka period (552-646).

“When the shogun brought a group of Korean potters back to Japan in the 17th century, they found kaolin in the city of Arita, Saga prefecture. They used the Chinese porcelain technique with polychrome overglaze enamels to create a range of intricate ceramics that have been useful for everyday use,” said Rakchanok Kojaranont, deputy director of the fine arts department.

Based on Buddhist morality, a ceramic figure of a boy using a gourd to catch a catfish was made between the 1670s and 1700s.

“China was a major manufacturer of porcelain until it was interrupted by internal upheavals during the transition between the Ming and Qing dynasties. Japan took the opportunity to improve the production of porcelain and ceramics for export to Southeast Asia and Europe via the Dutch East India Company, also known as Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC), which has its headquarters in Nagasaki.”

In Thailand, prehistoric people learned to control temperature in the production of earthenware for use in daily life and burials before switching to Sangkhalok stoneware during the Sukhothai period. Later, the Thais were influenced by Chinese porcelain and created the first glazed stoneware pots for export to overseas markets during the Ayutthaya period.

On the wall, a huge mosaic of blue and white ceramic tiles created by the Bureau of Traditional Arts, or Chang Sib Mu, shows the maritime trade route that linked Japan, Siam and Europe as well as the way of life in the kingdom of Ayutthaya. and the city of Arita.

The second area is designed to look like a Japanese ceramics factory so visitors can observe how a Japanese potter shaped clay into a vessel and used a natural cobalt-based indigo pigment to draw on its surface before glaze it and bake it at 1,300°C in an oven.

Traditional Arita porcelain techniques have been passed down from generation to generation for over 400 years. Visitors can see a unique whip-shaped bottle, created between the 1650s and 1660s, adorned with a peony design in polychrome enamel overglaze.

Created between the 1660s and 1670s, an underglaze cobalt enamel Kendi ewer was inspired by a Chinese monk.

Between 1655 and 1670, a series of small cobalt blue bottles were created, and an underglaze cobalt enamel Kendi ewer was made between the 1660s and 1670s inspired by a Chinese monk named Hotei. A Kraak style colored bowl with phoenix designs in polychrome overglaze enamel dates from the 1660s-1670s, while a bowl with dragon and chrysanthemum decorations was made between 1655 and 1660.

“Ceramic wares were first decorated with floral, natural and landscape motifs like cranes and pine trees. They appeared in modest sizes like jars, bottles and vessels before developing into ceremonial vessels larger and decorative items for export. For example, a ceramic piece with a phoenix motif depicting an empress, and a ceremonial pot with Araya Metrai were influenced by Indian beliefs. At the same time, the potters used natural colors of red, blue and yellow made from minerals,” Rakchanok said.

The next area takes visitors back to the Edo era (1603-1868), when a national distribution network was established to link major cities like Kyoto and Osaka so that regional goods could be delivered to small villages across the country.

With the discovery of Izumiyama’s quarry and the development of Japanese culinary culture, Arita became the birthplace of the porcelain industry, and its ceramic tableware with functional designs quickly gained popularity across the country.

A 15th-16th century Sangkhalok teapot was discovered at Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai.

A Kakiemon-style lobed dish in polychrome overglaze enamel is displayed with dragon and tiger designs created between the 1670s and 1690s, and a vibrant abalone-shaped dish with a pattern of plum, pine and bamboo produced between the years 1690 and 1710.

A decorative figure of a boy using a gourd to catch a catfish was made between the 1670s and 1700s, based on Buddhist morality. There is also a bell-shaped underglaze cobalt blue water jug ​​with dragon and phoenix-inspired designs created between the 1670s and 1690s.

“The Kakiemon family is famous for their milky-hued ceramics and beautiful patterns in distinct colors resembling persimmons. Sakaida Kakiemon XIV has been designated a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government and his son is now in charge of the factory. Their Les pottery techniques have been passed down from generation to generation,” Rakchanok said.

“The Nabeshima Saga installed a kiln to create a traditional ceramic edition for the shogun, while Kraak-style pottery was created under the influence of Chinese ceramics and produced to be sold in international markets.”

Visitors can continue further inside to see 1:3 scale replicas of Thai and Japanese kilns and learn how Japanese potters created a mountain-climbing kiln to house multiple stepped fireboxes to generate a large amount of pottery. For high-fired ceramics, pine wood was used to provide heat.

A dining room serves a Japanese kaiseki meal.

In Siam, updraft kilns were built on the floor and featured a chimney, a large cooking chamber and a hearth in order to produce Sangkhalok earthenware like tiny mangosteen-shaped vessels, teapots, lanterns and guardian figures from the late 11th to 16th centuries. .

Thanks to the imitation Siamese and Japanese junks moored in the middle of the room, visitors can see a wide range of classic pottery with various designs. Highlights include a whip-shaped bottle with a geometric pattern made between 1650 and 1660, a European-style overglaze polychrome enamel tea set from the Meiji period, and an underglaze cobalt blue enamel and polychrome enamel bowl with a bird in a tree created between 1840 and 1870. .

The following area features a new collection of the best ceramic items from the Support Center to celebrate Thailand’s cultural heritage. To revive Thai ceramics production and provide more income to local villagers, HM Queen Sirikit founded the first ceramics department at the Ban Khut Na Kham Support Center in the northeast city of Sakon Nakhon in 1983 Later, the department was extended to other provinces.

The journey ends in a dining hall, where visitors can borrow period costumes and pretend to be a foodie while experiencing Japanese kaiseki dishes from the famous Yoryutei restaurant in Saga Prefecture as well as Siamese royal cuisine of King Rama II’s poem on savory and sweets. The Bureau of Traditional Arts will also organize several ceramic workshops on October 23, November 6, November 20 and December 4.

Travel information

The National Museum Bangkok is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday to Sunday. Entrance is 30 baht for Thais and 200 baht for foreigners. For more information call 02-224-1333 or visit facebook.com/nationalmuseumbangkok.

A whip-shaped bottle in over-enameled polychrome enamel with a peony design was created between the 1650s and 1660s.

The exhibition features 97 pieces of traditional Arita porcelain from the Kyushu Ceramics Museum.

The exhibition features 97 pieces of traditional Arita porcelain from the Kyushu Ceramics Museum.

The European-style overglaze polychrome enamel tea set from the Meiji period.

A whip-shaped bottle with a geometric pattern made between 1650 and 1660.

Sangkhalok covered bowls were produced between the 15th and 16th centuries.

Produced between the 1670s and 1690s, an underglaze cobalt blue bell-shaped water jar is decorated with dragon and phoenix motifs.

A polychrome overglaze enamel abalone-shaped dish with a plum and bamboo motif was created between the 1690s and 1710s.

Replicas of a Japanese climbing kiln and a Thai updraft kiln are on display. Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

A mountain of ancient pottery has been discovered under the sea.

The Sukhothai kingdom was famous for its Sangkhalok earthenware.

The exhibit mimics a Japanese ceramic factory in Arita.

The exhibition features 97 pieces of traditional Arita porcelain from the Kyushu Ceramics Museum.

Replicas of a Japanese climbing kiln and a Thai updraft kiln are on display.

The exhibition features 97 pieces of traditional Arita porcelain from the Kyushu Ceramics Museum.

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