The Trademark of the Siamese Crown
Blue and white porcelain that bear the “จปร.” (pronounced “Jor Por Ror”) monogram are highly coveted among collectors of Thai ceramic ware. On porcelain vessels of the highest craftsmanship that were solely commissioned for the royal family, the Thai initials of King Chulalongkorn’s name were fashioned in the style of Chinese traditional characters.
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The three initials in Jor Por Ror stand for the King’s full name, “Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Paramarachathiracha” (พระบาทสมเด็จพระปรมินทรมหาจุฬาลงกรณ์ ปรมราชาธิราช), which translates to King Chulalongkorn The Great.
In addition to serving as a symbol of the crown on the King’s personal effects, and royal ceremonies and important occasions attended by members of the royal family, this monogram is part of the beautiful aesthetic lineage of Thai history, art and culture, and has adorned countless artisanal pieces, such as these blue and white porcelain vessels, for over a hundred years.
From Three Initials to Majestic Tenfold Designs
M.C. Prawit Chumsai (Thong)’s masterful touch laid the blueprint for the stylization of the Jor Por Ror initials, which can be categorized into ten distinct motifs inspired by Chinese calligraphy.
The Cultural Significance of Jor Por Ror
Though there are many variations of the Jor Por Ror design, they can all be easily identified by their distinctive composition: the initials and constitutive linework that embody the cultural and artistic significance of this monogram. It is worth noting that artists exercised considerable creative liberty over the design of these monograms, rearranging and exaggerating the proportions of the three initials.
The “Lai Ath” design, based on the “ath” coin used during King Chulalongkorn’s reign, is one of the most prized among collectors. The pattern collages the auspicious Chinese symbols that represent the “Fu Lu Shou” (福祿壽, The Three Star Gods). The upside-down bat (蝙蝠 Biānfú), is a homophone of Fú (福), which means good fortune and, represents the first of the “Fu Lu Shou” saints. The ath coin– also known as the “Chinese coin”– represents “Lu”, who symbolizes prosperity. Finally, the Chinese linework in the Jor Por Ror lettering reflects “Shou”, the last of the trio of saints, who represents longevity. The concave shape of the monogram is referred to as “Yi Khod”.
Lai Kra Pae / Lai Yi Pae
A cursory glance at these circular monograms may lead the viewer to presume that they are composed of Chinese characters, but closer inspection will reveal that the script is, in fact, Thai– inscriptions of the initials of senior members of the royal family and King Chulalongkorn’s wives. In addition to the Jor Por Ror monogram in the center, “Lai Kra Pae” includes a monogrammed acronym of Siam and the initials of two of the King’s half-sisters and consorts: “สว.” is the abbreviation of Savang Vadhana (พระเจ้าลูกเธอ พระองค์เจ้าสว่างวัฒนา), and “สผ.”, the initials of Saovabha Phongsri (สมเด็จพระนางเจ้าเสาวภา ผ่องศรี), who was later bequeathed the title, “Queen Mother Sri Bajrindra” by her sons and heirs of the throne, King Rama VI and Rama VII.
This design is comprised of three auspicious fruits, which are associated with a trio of saints known as “Fu Lu Shou” (福祿壽, The Three Star Gods): the Buddha’s Hand fruit (佛手柑 Fóshǒu gān) is the symbol of “Fu”, the saint of good wealth and fortune; the pomegranate represents “Lu”, the patron of power and success; and the peach is the token fruit of “Shou”, the saint of longevity.
Lai Lookmai Khang Khao
A variation of “Lai Lookmai”, the “Lai Lookmai Khang Khao” design merges the “Five Blessings (五福 Wǔfú)” motif, symbolized by five bats, with three auspicious fruits. The motif discusses the five elements essential for a good life, as written in the Book of Documents or “ 尚書 (Shàngshū)”, one of the Confucian classics. The bats surrounding the three initials of Jor Por Ror represent longevity (長壽 Chángshòu), wealth (福貴 Fúguì), well-being (康寧 Kāngníng), love of virtue (好得 Hǎo dé) and a tranquil death (善終 Shànzhōng).
Lai Yi Yao
The composition of the “Lai Yi Yao” design is heavily inspired by the elegant Chinese character “Shou” (壽).
Lai Yi Sorn
This design consists of two rows of the Jor Por Ror monogram, which encircle the vessel. At a glance, the motif may appear identical to the “Lai Yi Yao” design; however, the “Lai Yi Yao” is distinguished by a singular strip of Jor Por Ror monograms, while the “Lai Yi Sorn” features two. The “Lai Yi Sorn” is prized by craftsmen and collectors alike for enhancing the shape of any vessel it adorns, while imparting a contemporary and distinctive look.
Lai Yi Siam
This design combines the Jor Por Ror monogram with a stylization of the letters of Siam; the two components arranged in columns.
Lai Yi Khat
The “Lai Yi Khat” arranges two rows of the Jor Por Ror monogram, in a checkerboard style, that circle the width of the vessel. As a result, the monogram in this design is shorter and boxier than the traditional, rectangular Chinese character “Shou” (壽), which represents longevity, giving the vessel a modern twist to its historic design.
Lai Ti Khod Khat
“Lai Yi Khod Khat” modulates the “Lai Yi Khat” design by squeezing the center of the Jor Por Ror monogram to give it a concave shape. In passing, the “Lai Yi Khod Khat” can be mistaken for “Lai Yi Khat”, as it retains the checkerboard pattern, but you will discover the difference between the two with a closer look at Lai Yi Khao Khat’s graceful, feminine curves. Thus, it was considered one of the revolutionary touches to the Jor Por Ro design, giving a sense of grandeur and a breath of fresh air to the vessel.
Lai Yi Khot
The “Lai Yi Khod” design intertwines the initials of the Jor Por Ror acronym in evenly-spaced columns that run the length of the vessel. What makes this design stand out from the other Jor Por Ror variations is the vine-like linework that gives the design its name (“Khod” translates to sinuous curves), offering a glimpse of opulence, charisma and royal history.
Reference: Ajarn Thanaphan Khajornphan