eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics

Lagunbyee

Myanmar

Sites in Myanmar

Martaban
Lagunbyee
Twante
Bagan
Shwebo

It was only in 1984, when the Tak Om Koi Burial Sites were found along the Thai-Myanmar border, that Burmese ceramic production came to light. Prior to this, very little was known, but the idea that Martaban had produced ceramic jars was already widespread. In addition, the glazed plaques at Bagan were well-known, and earthenware pottery had been discovered in many archaeological sites.

At Tak Om Koi, however, new types of wares (mainly green-and-whites), were identified and Roxanna Brown, the late but respected expert in Southeast Asian ceramics, included a chapter on Burmese wares in an update to her Master of Arts thesis, Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification (1988).

As this is a relatively recent discovery in the history of Burmese ceramic wares, the details are still sketchy.

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Lagunbyee

Lagunbyee was an ancient town, located on the Irrawaddy delta between Yangon and Bago, and was enclosed by curved earthen walls.

Lagunbyee site with ancient walled settlement and kilns
(Source: Myo Thant Tyn & U Thaw Kaung 2003: fig. 19.2)
Along the Lagunbyee creek system, over a hundred kiln sites were discovered. These were large cross-draft kilns, capable of manufacturing high-temperature green glazes.
Surface cross-draft kiln at Lagunbyee
(Source: Myo Thant Tyn & U Thaw Kaung 2003: fig. 19.11)
Myo Thant Tyn and U Thaw Kaung (2003) postulate two dates for these kilns. One possibility is that they are from the Pyu period because of the use of curved earthen walls at the settlement, and hence from the 1st to the 9th centuries CE.The second is due to the proximity of the kilns to the Shwegugyi Pagoda, built by the Mon King Dhammaceti (1462-92 AD). The monument is covered with many glazed plaques, which are traditionally dated to 1479, at the founding of the temple. Since the kilns are only 16 km (10 miles) away, and are the nearest capable of producing such plaques, one could assume that the kilns also date from the same time. However, as plaques are decorative and not a permanent feature of architecture, they could have been added at a later date. A 1999 excavation at Lagunbyee produced paddle-marked earthenware in shapes ranging from plates to large jars.Another distinctive product of these kilns is the white lead-glazed earthenware, such as this plate. Again, the rings on the foot are characteristic of Burmese ware, as well as the lack of decoration, except for incised circles on the interior surface of the dish. This is another feature which can be found in some cases of Burmese white ware. 
16th-17th C
H: 5 cm, D: 26.6 cm
Private collection

Celadons were among the wares found at the Tak Om Koi burials along the Thai-Myanmar border, but did not correspond to known Thai celadon production. In addition, some celadon dishes were found in the Philippines, with characteristic Burmese rings on their bases. (Brown 1988:105)

Lagunbyee celadon

14th-15th C
H: 7.5 cm, D: 22.1 cm
NUS Museum S1980-0017-001-0

From shipwrecks, Brown (2004: 7-8) was able to gather evidence that Burmese celadons such as this dish, were exported to Indonesia. In the latter half of the 15th century, they even appeared to overtake Thai celadon exports. Miksic (2009: 93) tells us that examples have been reported from Aceh, northern Sumatra.

Sources: Brown 1988 & 2004; Miksic 2009; Myo Thant Tyn & U Thaw Kaung 2003Nan 2009