Blue and White ~ Ceramics in the City of Angels

Large blue and white ceramic pots against a blue and white sky

Blue and White ~ Siam Ceramics ~ Bangkok Sky

Pottery is one of the markers of ‘civilisation’. With archeological examples dating back to B.C. 3,600, Thailand’s pottery traditions are amongst the oldest in the world. Over the years clear regional styles developed, with the quality of the products largely dependent on the types of clay found in the area.

Ceramics traditions also crossed borders: with the migrations of people and as a commodity across the region. For example, King Ramkamhaeng (1279-1298) brought potters from China to set up the now-famous Sukhothai kiln, and 600 to 800 more kilns were built around the region using the imported technology during the Sukothai period.

Today many of the small cottage industries in the Thai ceramics business make Chinese-style pottery, with one of the most popular being the ‘blue and white’ under-glazed porcelain, sometimes called ‘Ming’ porcelain (although the style originated in the earlier (1127 – 1279) Yuan dynasty).

"House of Blue and White Pottery" Shop front, with shelves of pots behind glass

Siam Ceramic “House of Blue and White Pottery” Shop Front

Modern  Blue and White pottery in different styles and pattens

Blue and White ~ In the Ming (1368 – 1644) Tradition

Over the last fifteen years, Thai ceramics producers have repositioned themselves to become significant international exporters. They have used the quality of their products to compete favourably against regional rivals (China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia) in the the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and United Kingdom markets.

In addition to the popular blue and white pottery, Thailand is famous for its celadon: high-fired stonewares with the distinctively crackled feldspathic and wood-ash glazes. The traces of iron in the clay, or in the glaze formulation itself, give celadon its characteristic colours: greens that are almost-white, subtly grayed, honey yellow, brown, rich Jade or olive.

Benjarong, another traditional Thai porcelain, has its roots in the Ming dynasty style of painting enamels onto a white porcelain base. The Thai name ‘Benjarong’ is from the Pali and Sanskrit words Benja and Rong, meaning ‘Five Colours’, and is descriptive: five enamel colours (red, white, yellow, black and green) are most commonly used, although some Benjarong patterns use only three colours, while others have as many as eight. Gold is liberally featured and the intricately repeated patterns are applied much more thickly than in the earlier Chinese examples, giving a highly textured finish.

Covered Benjarong (five-coloured enamel glazed porcelain) pots on a metal shelf

The ‘Five Colours’ of Benjaron ~ With the Liberal Applications of Gold

Detail: Edge of a lidded Benjarong pot with Chakri Blue design

The “Chakri Blue” Benjarong Pattern

Ceramic sheep with button-like

Individually Applied ‘Wool’ Buttons on a Ceramic Sheep

Small blue and white ceramic elephants

The Ubiquitous Thai Elephant ~ in Blue and White

Last month I was able to visit two porcelain factory outlets close to Bangkok for a small glimpse of the quality and range of Thai ceramic products. I was travelling with a group of women from ANZWG (the Australian New Zealand Women’s Group), and so we were invited ‘backstage’. “If they had shown us the workroom first, I would have appreciated the pieces even more!” exclaimed one of the women as we watched the men at work. For while the kilns and potters’ wheels might be greatly improved over what they were a thousand years ago, much of the process of creating beautiful ceramics has remained unchanged. Every piece is painstakingly painted by hand – a fact that is NOT, by Western standards, reflected in the local selling prices.

Chinese Shar-Pei amongst cement bags

Chinese Shar-Pei Guarding the Workshop Entrance

Ceramic Greenware Babies

Foreground: blue and white greenware. Background: women shopping.

Women Shopping while the Greenware Dries

Man Underglazing large Blue Porcelain pot

Delicate Work ~ Underglazing the Blue and White Porcelain

Greenware: Stylised Siamese Cats

Siamese Aristocats? Greenware in the Workroom

Man at a work-table underglazing blue and white pottery

Artisan at Work: Three days for a piece this size, he told me.

Storeroom: Foreground, blue and white pottery, Background, celadon buddhas

Storeroom: Blue and White Pots and Celadon Buddhas

Blue and whit lidded ceramic pots

Blue ~ White ~ and a Generous Brush of Gold

Small blue and whit pottery lids

Lids: Blue ~ White ~ and Gold

Ceramic tiled shop-front for pottery sales

Ceramic Tiles and Pots at the Chieng Sang Factory Outlet

Sitting on our balcony later that evening, watching the storm clouds rolling in over a city of shiny ceramic-glazed high rise buildings, I couldn’t help but think about how ceramics define modern ‘civilisation’ – being used for everything from teeth to tiles, from car parts to communications, from everyday kitchen products to aerospace. At the same time, Thai pottery traditions continue to evolve as they have for six thousand years.

Storm clouds over Bangkok

Blue ~ White ~ and Gold

Blue and white ceramics are like a symbolic bridge between the past and the future.

And, an example of the time and effort that goes into things of beauty.

Happy travels!

  • Signe Westerberg - June 24, 2011 - 2:14 am

    beautiful workmanship, again one has to ask how do you resist having a house full of trinkets and keepsakes? or do you not really resist ;-DReplyCancel

    • Ursula - June 24, 2011 - 5:27 am

      There were just a FEW pieces I couldn’t resist. 😉ReplyCancel

  • gabe - June 24, 2011 - 4:02 am

    Nicely stated ~ beautiful pieces.ReplyCancel

  • amy - November 8, 2011 - 1:27 am

    hi ursula! where in bangkok can i buy this ceramic?ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - November 8, 2011 - 10:59 am

      Hi Amy!! Thanks for your visit. I’ve emailed you the details. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Pooja Khanna - November 15, 2011 - 7:41 am

    Hi Ursula, visiting Bangkok soon. Beautiful blue pottery.. where exactly is the house of blue and white property? also could you list me other blue n white pottery shop names and locations. Thanks.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - November 16, 2011 - 4:23 am

      Hi Pooja!! Thanks for your visit. I’ve emailed you the details.ReplyCancel

    • Raja Rose Rina - October 24, 2016 - 1:00 pm

      I want to find out where exactly is the house of blue and white property? Can yiu please list me other blue and white pottery shop names and locations. Not too far away from Bangkok city. Thanks.ReplyCancel

      • Ursula - October 25, 2016 - 1:26 am

        Raja, if you look through the comments, you will find the most up-to-date information available to me. Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Jasmine - January 5, 2012 - 1:53 am

    Dear Ursula,

    how beautiful……and a feast for the eyes. I’m from Malaysia and trying to find whether its possible to find this blue and white porcelain in Kuala Lumpur as I love collecting them…but am willing to travel to Bangkok to find as well.Can I have the address in Bangkok please ? Thanks for your informative article.Happy New Year….JasmineReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 5, 2012 - 12:45 pm

      Hi Jasmine,
      I’m glad you liked the post. I’ve emailed you details. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Rabiya - April 5, 2012 - 8:57 pm

    Hi, i loved your post about this workshop in bangkok. I am going to be visiting soon. Would you be able to tell me the location and tel no of this post please. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - April 6, 2012 - 1:23 am

      Hi Rabiya,
      I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ve tried to email you, but the address doesn’t work :-SReplyCancel

  • Rabiya - April 6, 2012 - 9:30 am

    Hi Ursula,

    Thanks for your reply. I have just put in another email address. Let me know if it goes through on that.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • nikku guron - May 18, 2012 - 3:44 pm

    HI

    I would really appreciate if you can mail me the contact detail for chieng sang factory outlet and if possible any other places where similar artifacts are available within bangkok.

    regards
    nikku guronReplyCancel

    • Ursula - May 19, 2012 - 1:58 am

      Hi Nikku,

      Thanks for your visit. I’ve sent you the information I have.ReplyCancel

  • Suzana - June 3, 2012 - 10:22 am

    Hi,,

    I’m living in Bangkok and interested in directions and hours as well.

    Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - June 4, 2012 - 3:37 pm

      Hi Suzana,

      I get a lot of requests for this info, so I’ll post it here instead of replying individually.

      Both places were around Petchkasem Road – I thought we were out of Bangkok, but apparently not.

      I can’t find the card I had for the Blue and White shop, and when I was writing the post, the website they had listed on it was an expired link. I think they trade under Siam Ceramic, which I found in Hello Trade:

      Siam Ceramic. 14/37 M. 7 Petchkasem Rd., Nong Kang Plu, Nong Khaem, Bangkok. (66)-(662)-4211385.

      The card I have for Chieng Sang doesn’t give the factory address and I wasn’t paying attention; I have only the JJ Market location: Soi 9 Section 17. Tel: 0 2272 5582.

      I hope this helps.

      🙂ReplyCancel

  • Peter - October 16, 2012 - 11:23 pm

    Hi Ursula

    Thanks for the lovely photos i collect the brightly colored Benjarong but i might look more closely at the blue and white next week when i am visiting Thailand.

    And the button sheep is just adorrable i would love to find one of those.

    Peter
    St kilda
    Australia.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - October 17, 2012 - 12:26 am

      Thanks for the visit, Peter. There are lots of treasures to be found in Bangkok’s streets and markets – enjoy! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Patrick Gallagher - December 10, 2012 - 1:06 am

    Another excellent, interesting article, Ursula.ReplyCancel

    • Karen - February 26, 2017 - 4:47 pm

      Hey, loved the article and happy to see the blue and white crockery. Can you give me an idea of the pricing?ReplyCancel

      • Ursula - February 26, 2017 - 10:48 pm

        Hi Karen,
        Thanks! You need to contact the companies directly. Check the comment thread . 😀ReplyCancel

  • Ursula - December 10, 2012 - 2:03 am

    Thanks Patrick! Nice to have you along. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Daniel - January 16, 2013 - 7:11 am

    Hi Ursula! What an amazing and beautiful post. I’m a Peace Corps Volunteer in Mongolia, visiting Thailand in a few days. Money is kind of an object for me, and I’d hate to see all of this beautiful stuff in person and be unable to bring any home. Could you give me an idea of the price range these fall into? Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 16, 2013 - 10:23 am

      Hi Daniel,
      I wish I could answer your question! Basically, the prices at the outlets or in the markets are very reasonable… But often, prices are dependent on size, quality, and outlet. As for the actual prices, I honestly can’t remember!!ReplyCancel

  • ania bhatti - February 18, 2013 - 7:47 am

    hi urusula can you please where can i buy these from in thailandReplyCancel

  • Ursula - February 18, 2013 - 8:06 am

    Hi Ania,

    I get a lot of requests for this info, so I’ll post it here (again) instead of replying individually.

    Both places were around Petchkasem Road – I thought we were out of Bangkok, but apparently not.

    I can’t find the card I had for the Blue and White shop, and when I was writing the post, the website they had listed on it was an expired link. I think they trade under Siam Ceramic, which I found in Hello Trade:

    Siam Ceramic. 14/37 M. 7 Petchkasem Rd., Nong Kang Plu, Nong Khaem, Bangkok. (66)-(662)-4211385.

    The card I have for Chieng Sang doesn’t give the factory address and I wasn’t paying attention; I have only the JJ Market location: Soi 9 Section 17. Tel: 0 2272 5582.

    I hope this helps.

    🙂ReplyCancel

  • Daniel - March 14, 2013 - 10:47 am

    As of January 28 2013, Siam Ceramic is at the address and phone number you listed, Ursula. They are incredibly polite, friendly, and welcoming, and carry an incredible selection at prices that are absurdly low–they’ll still bargain with you if you have the heart to do it! It is certainly a task getting there, but your efforts will be rewarded. Call ahead and let them know you’re coming so that the showroom is open.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 14, 2013 - 12:30 pm

      Daniel – thanks so much for the update! It is good to know someone else has found Siam Ceramics – and found them to be good value!!ReplyCancel

  • John - March 22, 2013 - 7:07 am

    Very interesting and well written post, with great photos. I’m trying to source the Chieng Sang ceramics to sell with our ceramic range in Bali. The intricacy and accuracy of the hand painted motifs are fantastic. Sometime lost in a shop full of this style, but when you pick one up and look close, you really appreciate the artistic skill.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 22, 2013 - 9:12 am

      Hi John,
      I’m glad you enjoyed the post; it’s nice to see people “in the know” appreciating each others skill.ReplyCancel

  • Francis Yeong - July 11, 2013 - 8:42 am

    Hi I’m from Taiwan, and I am so interesting with it! Is there far from Siam?
    I will come to Thailand this end of month, pls show me the location address,Thanks!ReplyCancel

  • Ursula - July 11, 2013 - 8:04 pm

    Hey Francis!
    If you look through the comments on this post, you will find the details:

    Siam Ceramic. 14/37 M. 7 Petchkasem Rd., Nong Kang Plu, Nong Khaem, Bangkok. (66)-(662)-4211385.

    It is a way out from city centre – if that is what you mean by Siam.

    Good luck!
    UrsulaReplyCancel

  • Lucy - November 20, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    Hi, Found this blue and white exciting, can you tell me how to get there. is there a phone number to call before going?ReplyCancel

  • Ursula - November 20, 2014 - 11:40 pm

    Hey Lucy!
    If you look through the comments on this post, you will find the details:

    Siam Ceramic. 14/37 M. 7 Petchkasem Rd., Nong Kang Plu, Nong Khaem, Bangkok. (66)-(662)-4211385.

    However, there are many manufactures around Bangkok – and they all produce beautiful things.

    Good luck!
    UrsulaReplyCancel

  • Helen McCormick - January 28, 2015 - 3:11 am

    Dear Ursula,

    I am the head of art in an International School in Bangkok and was wondering if you could help us? I came across your site while doing a search and have seen how useful your advice and information has been to fellow artists.

    We are in urgent desperate need to buy glaze!!

    My goal is to develop ceramics in the school, however we are struggling to find a place to purchase glaze. Any help and advice on this would be much appreciated as our students really want to experiment with the process for their exam.

    Kindest regards

    Helen McCormickReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 28, 2015 - 4:47 am

      Hi Helen,
      Thanks for your visit.
      You’ll find the only contact details I have in the comment thread on this page.
      Good luck!
      UrsulaReplyCancel

  • Svea - February 7, 2015 - 3:44 am

    Hi Ursula,
    Really enjoyed reading your article, which makes me absolutely curious to discover it myself ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - February 8, 2015 - 8:45 am

      Thanks, Svea. The jug and bowl I bought live in my kitchen, where I enjoy them daily. 😀ReplyCancel

  • Lyn Thomas - March 5, 2015 - 4:01 am

    Hi everyone, I have a friend who is keen to visit blue and white ceramic factory outlets while in Bangkok. Can anyone make recommendations and give me addresses etc?
    Thanks
    LynReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 5, 2015 - 11:19 am

      Hi Lyn,
      You will find all the information I have in the comment thread here. I’m sure your friend will have no trouble finding outlets.
      Cheers, UrsulaReplyCancel

  • Patricia - July 9, 2015 - 6:09 am

    Are you able to ship to Australia and is it very expensive to ship?ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - July 9, 2015 - 10:34 pm

      Hi Patricia,
      Thanks for your visit. If you read the Blog, you will see that I am NOT selling these products myself.ReplyCancel

  • Janice - July 29, 2015 - 1:47 pm

    I am going there this weekend anything in particular that I should try and see? Or get? I am not a collector but want something nice as a reminder of my visitReplyCancel

    • Ursula - July 29, 2015 - 4:08 pm

      Hi Janice,
      Thanks for dropping in! I think you’ll enjoy yourself – wherever you go. 😀ReplyCancel

  • adam - February 12, 2016 - 8:09 am

    hey i have a rare hand painted blue n white elephant stool from the ming era 1368 -1644 also mite b one n only make havent seen another exactly like it if interested u can contact me at aharris3233@gmail.comReplyCancel

  • Serena - March 9, 2016 - 12:40 am

    Morning,
    Can u kindly give me the direction and name of the pottery please. Planning to visit next week.

    ThanksReplyCancel

    • Ursula - March 9, 2016 - 12:55 am

      Thanks for your visit, Serena.
      If you check back on the comments thread, you will find the only addresses I have: probably outdated now. Good luck!ReplyCancel

  • a.b - April 3, 2016 - 4:33 pm

    hi Ursula
    what a lovely post
    can you please tell me where is this chieng sang factory outlet located in bangkok,i really want to buy these blue and white ginger jarsReplyCancel

    • Ursula - April 4, 2016 - 2:15 am

      I’m glad you like the post. You will find all the information I have – now quite dated – in the comment thread. Cheers, UrsulaReplyCancel

    • Totsaporn - September 12, 2016 - 6:23 pm

      Chieng Sang Factory’s address.
      25 M 7 Phetchkasem Rd Omnoi Krathumban Samutsakorn 74130
      Tel. 02-420-1437ReplyCancel

  • Karl - August 29, 2016 - 9:47 am

    Would it be possible to give me an email ID as a contact within the suppliers so i can reach them.

    Thanks very much.

    Best Regards,
    KarlReplyCancel

  • stephen cronick - October 9, 2016 - 10:54 pm

    Would you send a price list of blue porcelain crockery please.
    I have a Thai restaurantReplyCancel

    • Ursula - October 13, 2016 - 2:49 am

      Sorry, Stephen – I don’t sell it!ReplyCancel

  • Roman - January 4, 2017 - 3:15 am

    Good Morning Ursula, Could you please email the address ? I am going to be in Bangkok in 4 days, very interested.ReplyCancel

    • Ursula - January 4, 2017 - 10:16 am

      Hi Roman,
      Chieng Sang Factory’s address:
      25 M 7 Phetchkasem Rd Omnoi Krathumban Samutsakorn 74130
      Tel. 02-420-1437ReplyCancel

    • Anna - August 6, 2017 - 11:35 am

      Hi Roman
      Were you able to locate the shop? I’m heading there in a few weeks and would like to visit. Thanks!ReplyCancel

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