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Asian art

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Small bowl decorated with 'thepanom' interspersed with rhomboids


Bencharong ware



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 After the fall of Autthaya to the Burmese in 1767 Bencharong wares became more widely used and Lain Nam Thong wares superseded them as the exclusive wares of royalty.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 dish is decorated with alternating images of 'thepanom' and a rhomboid floral pattern. The 'thepanom' (celestial beings who live in one of the six lower Buddhist heavens) is a minor Buddhist deity belonging to the Theravada school of Buddhism. Depicted here sitting cross-legged in a praying posture, nude except for a petalled collar, bracelets and crown.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, Dec 2015


Place where the work was made



Rama I Period 1782 - 1809 → Thailand

Media category


Materials used

porcelain with green yellow, red and white enamel decoration


6.0 x 11.3 cm


Gift of Mr F. Storch 1987


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Bencharong ware

Works in the collection



Where the work was made