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Bowl decorated with Buddhist figures

18th century


Bencharong ware


  • Details

    Other Title
    Bowl decorated with thepanon and norasingh
    Place where the work was made
    Ayutthaya period 1350 - 1767 → Thailand
    18th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    porcelain with enamel decoration
    9.5 x 20.0 cm
    Gift of Mr F. Storch 1985
    South Building, lower level 1, Asian Lantern galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Bencharong ware

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Bencharong ware is a polychrome porcelain made in the city of Jingdezhen (the porcelain capital of China) and richly decorated to Thai tastes with bright enamel glazes. It is thought that Buddhist books and paintings were supplied as references and sent to Guangzhou merchants, who acted as intermediaries to the Chinese potters and decorators for foreign orders. As with orders for Europe, the desired ceramic shapes were communicated by maquettes in wood or perhaps metal. While the name Bencharong derives from the sanskrit words ‘pancha’ and ‘ranga’ meaning five colours, Bencharong wares can also be found with as few as three and as many as eight colours.

    Bencharong wares were first commissioned by the Thai kings of Ayutthaya in the 18th century. This period of relative peace saw rulers enjoy picnics and tours with Bencharong wares used to store and serve food. After the fall of Autthaya to the Burmese in 1767, Bencharong wares began to be used by the wider community and Lain Nam Thong wares superseded them as the exclusive wares of royalty.

    This bowl, decorated on the inside and outside, is a particularly fine example and is decorated with alternating images of 'thepanom' and 'norasingha', both minor Buddhist deities belonging to the Theravada school of Buddhism. Typically the 'thepanom' (celestial beings who live in one of the six lower Buddhist heavens) sit cross-legged in a praying posture wearing only a petalled collar, bracelets and a crown. The 'norasingha', believed to reside in the mythical Himaphan forest in the Himalayan mountains, has a human head, the hindquarters of a lion with a flame-tipped tail, and the hoofs of a deer. In this example, however, the 'norasingha’ has human feet.

  • Places

    Where the work was made


  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 3 exhibitions

    • Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994

    • The Way We Eat, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 03 Apr 2021–13 Jun 2022

    • Elemental, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 30 Jul 2022–2024

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications

  • Provenance

    Fred Storch, pre May 1985, Sydney/New South Wales/Australia, donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, May 1985.

Other works by Bencharong ware

See all 14 works