Thai pottery and ceramics are renowned throughout Asia from their quality, design and colour. Much is hand-made by village communities using centuries-old skills and techniques. The first potters go back to the dawn of civilization at Ban Chiang in northeastern Thailand, where pots and urns with unique red and white whirls were first produced over 6,000 years ago.
However, revolution in pottery from basic home-use items to attractive products for sale came when craftsmen from China brought in new skills. They set up kilns for Celadon in Sukhothai province, utilizing vegetable ash to give a soft green colour abs silicon glazing to produce prized pots, tableware and gift items. Chinese skills were also used to create Bencharong, fabulously attractive ceramics with patterns of five primary colours painted over glazing and finished with gold edging.
Thailand has an abundance of raw materials from the red clays of Ratchburi province, famous for its giant water jars and pots, to the iron rich clay of Dan Kwian, which produces heat-resistant, purple pots for outdoor use, to the light terra cotta of Koh Kred, where the Mon community creates a variety of houseware and souvenirs. However, it is the giant deposits of white kaolin clay in Lampang province that has led to the development of an extensive ceramics industry in northern Thailand.
Today the ceramics industry has expanded rapidly, with smaller enterprises and village communities continuing to create hand-made household and gift items for sale, using skills handed down over generations. Training centres like Bangsai Arts Ɛt Craft Centre in Ayutthaya province have revived traditional skills, teaching communities to make pottery for supplementary income, and employing master artisans to create modern designs, colours and products for internationals markets.