The Suriyathep Insignia: Marking the Splendour of Siamese History
Originating in the 15th century, “Pan Cha” is a ceramic teapot made from a mixture of different types of clay, with a lidded opening where tea leaves and hot water can be added, a spout on one side, out of which the tea is decanted, and a handle on the other.
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Over the centuries proliferating a range of shapes, colors and decorative marks (insignia) that varied according to the creative disposition of the artisan, the Pan Cha market expanded from China to Siam in the late Ayutthaya period, when the Qing imperial court reciprocated the Siamese kingdom’s diplomatic gifts with an assortment of silks, blue and white porcelain, and ceramic teapots, which subsequently surged in popularity among the Siamese public. Thai artisans began commissioning Pan Cha from pottery ateliers based in China, leading to the formation of a new class of ceramic teapots referred to as “Pan Jeen Siam”: these teapots were based on the original Chinese design, with the addition of certain details indicating that they had been commissioned by Siamese craftsmen and were a special export product bound for Siamese shores.
“Pan Cha Suriyathep”, a teapot marked with the symbol of Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse (Chuang Bunnag), the former regent of Thailand, were commissioned as a commemorative item to be distributed to attendees at his cremation ceremony. Sri Suriwongse was royally-bestowed the title of “Mahasirsuriya”, and was one of the most powerful political actors in the Siamese kingdom during his lifetime, serving as the regent of Siam for 5 years (1868-1873) before King Rama V ascended the throne. His monumental legacy is celebrated annually on January 19th, the day of his passing.
A rare Pan Cha graced with the Suriyathep mark is one of the more dazzling specimens in the forthcoming Live Auction’s catalog. With a refined and aristocratic silhouette consummately completed by an elegantly-arched spout, this Pan Cha is adorned with inlaid gold decorations along the upper rim and a red symbol that affirms that the clay is sourced from Yixing, in China’s Jiangsu Province. Branded on its base is the Suriyathep mark.
No mere tea-brewing accessory, Pan Cha are priceless heirlooms that bear witness to the harmoniously orbiting firmaments of Thai and Chinese culture, which have constellated countless cultural and aesthetic innovations throughout history. Displayed on a parlor table or living room mantle, this Pan Cha will steep any space in the warm embrace of friendship and welcome enshrined in the tradition of serving tea to one’s guests.
A Yixing teapot with red ground(mark: former regent of Thailand symbol of “Somdet Chaophraya Sri Suriwongse”) (1 pc.)
Dimensions: W 10 cm H 7 cm
Circa: 19th Century
Estimated Price: 100,000 – 150,000 THB
Starting Price: 80,000 THB