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Asian art

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Covered jar decorated with one 'thepanom', one 'norasingha', two cartouches, each separated by flame patterns



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 After the fall of Autthaya to the Burmese in 1767 Bencharong wares became more widely used and Lain Nam Thong wares superseded them as the exclusive wares of royalty.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 jar 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.The area between the two figures is filled with the Thai flame motif known as ‘lai kranok’.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, Dec 2015


Other Title

Covered jar decorated with one 'thepanom', one 'norasingha', two cartouches, each separated by Chinese flame patterns

Place where the work was made


Cultural origin




Media category


Materials used

porcelain with coloured enamel decoration


6.0 cm diam. of mouth; 9.2 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