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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
    Lower Asian gallery
    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 Western orders, new, alien 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 little as three and as many as eight colours.

    Bencharong wares were first commissioned by the Thai kings of Ayutthaya in the 18th century during a peaceful period of rule that was congenial to picnics and tours and where Bencharong wares could be used to store and serve food. After the fall of Autthaya to the Burmese in 1767 Bencharong wares became more widely used and Lain Nam Thong wares superseded them as the exclusive wares of royalty.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, nude except for a petalled collar, bracelets and crown. Typically 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, however in this example the norasingha’ is depicted with human feet.

    Asian Art Department, AGNSW, Nov 2015

  • 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