The Majestic Ripples of the Mythical Beasts in Literature

Once upon a moonlit night, the tales wove whispers of the enchanting mermaids, ethereal beings whose essence entwined the water. They were half-human, with the upper forms akin to ours, while their lower bodies flowed in the graceful form of aquatic creatures.

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These mystical nymphs, whispered among the ancients, held sway over the ocean’s realm, orchestrating events as deftly as the wind shapes the waves. Fishermen, the loyal believers, entrusted them as rain keepers of the sea’s celestial skies. Thailand, steeped in legend, etched their lore since the epoch of Ayutthaya, inscribed in the sacred “Tribhum Phra Ruang: Way of Life” chronicles. Their essence dances upon temple walls, in ancient strokes of artistry, portraying the mermaid’s petite faces, akin to sugarcane buds, or no larger than a monkey’s countenance, with flowing locks weaving mysteries beneath the midnight’s lunar gaze as they gently comb their hair with gilded combs, inviting mortals to catch a fleeting glimpse of their elusive beauty.

The mermaid’s tales transcend poetic verses, yet none shows louder than her presence in the literary masterpiece of Thailand’s revered bard, Sunthorn Phu. It’s in the “Phra Aphai Mani” where the creature emerges, woven into the fabric of universal recognition. The belief in her essence, however, doesn’t reside solely in Thai lore. Her whispers resonate across fables in various lands – the echoes of her name heard in the folklore of the Khmer, Laos, Japan, and even across upon the ancient winds that sweep through the corridors of Europe.

Amidst the swirling ocean waves etched upon this bowl, the enchantment of the mermaid’s artistry unfolds. The artist’s hand, not content with only the nymph’s allure, graced the encircling realm with creatures of reverence – the Waree Kunchorn (a mythical marine creature that mixed between elephant and fish)  and Sinta Panattee (mythical horse with a fishtail). They coalesce in this vessel, often known as the “Macchanu design”, embodying creatures of profound significance, lending a serene aura to this sacred artifact. Within this vessel, the mermaid’s delicate strokes dance in harmony with the avian ripples amidst the mirrored lotus petals, an emblematic ode to the exquisite craftsmanship of Thai porcelain ware. This design, an enigmatic marvel, eludes the ordinary with its intricate lines – each meticulously drawn, adding allure with hues of red, azure, and saffron, accentuated by threads of glistening gold.

The curation from RCB Auctions’ Live Auction feels like unlocking the treasures of time itself. Lot 82, the Benjarong bowl embellished with delicate Thai folklore of the mermaid, stands as a breathtaking testament – a cherished legacy that everyone eagerly awaits, reminiscent of an invaluable heirloom that captivates all gazes.

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Lot 82

A rare and fine Benjarong bowl painted and gilt with a continuous scene of Thai literature on a white ground (1 pc.)
Style: Thai – Rattanakosin
Dimensions: W 11 cm H 5 cm
Circa: 19th Century
Estimated Price: 30,000 – 40,000 THB
Starting Price: 18,000 THB