eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics

Shwebo

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.

Click on markers on the map to find out about individual sites in Myanmar.

Shwebo

Located in the upper Irrawaddy, the area around Shwebo was the site of the ancient Pyu city-state of Hanlin, which flourished between the 4th and 9th CE.

Very little is known about the production site of Shwebo, and although kilns have been found, they have yet to be fully researched. A number of Burmese ceramics have been found in southwest Sumatra, where Bengkulu (Bencoolen) is, in the 17th-century contexts. It is postulated that these plates with a white glaze and red bodies are from Shwebo, but this remains to be confirmed (Miksic 2009: 93)

This white-glazed and red-bodied Shwebo bowl has a potter’s mark on the interior unglazed part of the foot. This comma-like incision is typically found on Burmese whites and green-and-whites, and possibly originates from ancient Pyu alphabet. The circular rings on and around the foot are another characteristic of Myanmar ceramics.

16th-17th C
H: 7 cm, D: 16 cm
Private collection

The thickly potted jar featured below is dated to the 17th-18th centuries. Its upper half is covered in a white slip under a yellowish-green glaze. Where the glaze meets the unglazed lower body, it turns purplish in colour. The interior of the jar is glazed.

H: 21 cm, D: 19 cm
NUS Museum NU30420-0
Sources: U Than Shwe et al 1993; Miksic 2009; Myo Thant Tyn 2004