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Sawankoloke/Sisatchanalai introduction
Wares from the hundreds of kilns at Sisatchanalai were exported in enormous quantities to Indonesia and the Philippines. For long these wares, recovered from burial sites, were all that most people knew of Thai ceramics.
The most intriguing questions about these kilns are their dating and their origin. It is now certain that the potters were indigenous - not imported Chinese - and the origin of the craft may have been to the north. Don Hein, who has spent most of his life studying these kilns, is now of the opinion that production had started by the middle of the thirteenth century when what he calls Mon wares were made. Over the years the kilns evolved and the quality of the ceramics improved as new techniques and better clays were introduced. Some historians are of the opinion that Sukothai Kingdom wares continued to be made well into the seventeenth century, but evidence is lacking.
My personal opinion is that knowledge of high-fired, glazed stoneware production radiated out from Phayao in the late thirteenth century, that designs from samples of Chinese wares were sometimes copied, but that the industry was entirely local -as is possibly proved by the fact that all writing found on Sukothai and Lanna Kingdom pots is Thai script.
Early, fourteenth century wares, some remarkably fine, were probably made for local consumption but, after Ayuthya absorbed Sukothai at the beginning of the fifteenth century, Chinese merchants, based in Ayuthya, started an extensive export trade to fill the gap left when the Ming banned private exports. The industry must have come to an end soon after the Burmese destruction of the Thai world in 1569. At this time, too, large scale exports of cheap Chinese ceramics once again began to flood the market.




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