Bencharong ‘Thepanom’ & ‘Norasingh‘ Porcelain Bowl
China for the Thai Market
Ayutthaya Period, 18th-19th century
diameter: 17.8cm, height: 9.5cm
This rounded, tapered porcelain bowl which sits on a low ring foot is richly decorated in bright polychrome enamels much favored by the nobility in late eighteenth century Thailand. This colourful style became known as bencharong, a term that derives from two Sanskrit words – panch (‘five’) and rong (‘colour’) and which relates to the number of colours used to decorate such porcelain. In practice however the number of colours tends to vary between three and eight.
The bowl is decorated with typically Thai motifs. The sides are decorated with four
thepanom figures each wearing a broad necklace of petals and seated on a lotus within cartouches that have a coral-red ground. Four norasingh figures against black grounds and surrounded by flaming creeper kranok motifs are between them. (The thepanom is a celestial being from Buddhist cosmology. The norasingh is a mythical forest-dwelling semi-deity with a human head, torso, and arms but with the hind-quarters of a lion and the tail and hoofs of a deer.)
The base of the interior has a large decorative, floral roundel.
Sets of porcelain such as this example were commissioned from China, usually from the southern Jiangxi province, and exported to Thailand.
The bowl is in excellent condition with no cracks or chips. It is also larger than many extant examples.
UK art market.
Thai Minor Arts, The Fine Arts Department, 1993; Treasures from the National Museum, Bangkok, The National Museum Volunteers, 1987; McGill, F. (ed.), Emerald Cities: Arts of Siam and Burma, 1775-1950, Asian Art Museum, 2009; and Bromberg, P., ‘A passion for Bencharong’, in Arts of Asia, May-June, 2010.
Inventory no.: 1016