Exquisite and Majestic Treasures: The Enchanting Celestial Dance Patterned Bowls

The term “Benjarong” resonates deeply among Thais, embodying cultural heritage passed down through generations. These intricately crafted ceramics, considered invaluable, were once exclusively commissioned for royal purposes.

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The tradition dates back to the Ming Dynasty and thrived through the Ayutthaya period, persisting from the late era into the Rattanakosin Kingdom’s inception. Benjarong stands as a testament to artistic legacy, enduring time with grace and grandeur.

The pinnacle era of Benjarong ceramics unfolded during the reign of King Rama II. In this golden age, the revered monarch, Phra Bat Somdet Phra Phutthaloetla Naphalai personally infused his divine inspiration into the designs and patterns of these exquisite bowls. These concepts were then sent to be meticulously crafted in China, collaborating with skilled Thai artisans. Popular motifs included Lai Phumkhaobin (trellis and rice design), Lai Kanyaeng (floral design), Lai Kantodok (a continuous floral design), and Lai Kulap Nam Thong (blooming roses on a gold ground)

Not only that, but another enchanting aspect of Benjarong ceramics lies in the artistry born from the unfamiliarity with Thai patterns among Chinese artisans. When the pieces were produced, the Thai designs underwent a delightful transformation from the original, unintentionally blending with elements of Chinese art. This unintentional fusion bestowed a unique and distinctive identity upon Benjarong bowls, making them stand out with a captivating allure. Upon closer inspection, they exude a captivating harmony, a testament to the unintentional yet fascinating interplay of beauty.

It wasn’t until the reign of King Rama V that the popularity of Benjarong ceramics, ordered from China by Thailand, began to wane. Under the skilled hands of the Bureau of the Royal Household at Bovorn Vichai Charn, a kiln was erected within the sacred precincts of the Front Palace. Here, a remarkable shift unfolded as white Benjarong bowls were imported from distant lands and then intricately adorned with vibrant patterns in-house. This marked a departure from the Chinese-imported tradition, adding a new chapter to the evolving tale of Thai craftsmanship.

Benjarong often employs contrasting color combinations to accentuate the uniqueness of its patterns. For instance, in this intricately designed celestial dance motif on a green-based bowl, the vibrant orange cometes boldly, creating a captivating visual spectacle. The brilliance of the fresh green background, adorned with delicately drawn lines inspired by the charm of traditional Thai art, showcases the exquisite beauty and finesse. The celestial dance pattern is particularly rare, featuring angelic figures in white adorned with yellow regalia in a Thai-style pose, meditating in serene green attire. Both figures hold beautifully detailed red flowers, delicately placed amidst the gracefully curving lines – an essential component adding enchantment to the Benjarong pattern. The charm is further heightened by floral patterns cascading along the rim of the bowl, embodying the prevalent style during the Ayutthaya era, often characterized by bowls with flaring rims, also known as “Bua” (water lily) bowls.

Benjarong bowls serve as reflective time capsules, offering glimpses into the rich tapestry of history, culture, and the lives of the people. The lidded bowl adorned with the celestial dance motif stands as the pinnacle highlight of this extraordinary Live Auction. Once again, it unveils itself, inviting all to witness the magnificence of art and the timeless legacy of Siam, making this auction a truly remarkable spectacle.

Lot 99
A rare and fine Benjarong small covered bowl painted with dancing celestial beings amidst flames surrounded with floral vine scrolls and painted with floral designs at cover (1 pc.)
Style: Thai, Rattanakosin
Dimensions: W 11 cm H 10.5 cm
Circa: 19th Century
Estimated Price: 300,000 - 400,000 THB
Starting Price: 80,000 THB