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Ceramics & Celadon in Chiang Mai
The finest Pottery of the region is known as celadon, which has a distinctive glaze made with wood ash. The technique of producing these wares involves applying the glaze before a second high temperature firing (1260° C in a reduced atmosphere of carbon dioxide). It was developed in China at least 2000 years ago.
Traditionally the glaze is designed to "run" (flow down the pot as the glaze becomes glassy) as well as "craze" and take on a crackled appearance. Though a light green color is considered ideal, old celadons could also be yellow and brown and the glaze matt and opaque if under-fired.
The main kilns in Lanna were at Kalong (near Wiang Papao), Phan (between Chiang Rai & Phayao) and San Kamphaeng.
Just when and how the considerable skills required to make this pottery came to Lanna is uncertain. It is generally accepted that production near Chiang Mai at San Kamphaeng began early in the 14th century, and, like other kilns, was helped by Chinese potters who had moved south away from the Mongols. However there is also the possibility that the necessary skills came from a hitherto undiscovered kiln site and could be Thai in origin. These kilns may have produced fine wares, perhaps with help from earlier migrations of Chinese potters, long before the establishment of the San Kamphaeng kilns at the beginning of the 14th century.
The local industry thrived until the fall of Lanna to the Burmese. The mid-17th century war and the competition from cheaper blue and white wares from China had put out the fires in Lanna kilns. Production began again at the beginning of the 20th century, bringing Lanna pottery to a new age.
Where to see ceramics:
Ban Phor Liang Meun's Terracotta Arts
The San Kamphaeng Kilns
Earth & Fire At Tita Gallery
Chiang Mai Sangkhalok
All Handicrafts of Chiang Mai