eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics

Twante

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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Twante

In the late 1990s, 50 different groups of ancient kilns numbering in the hundreds were found in the Twante district. This is about 32 km southwest of Yangon, on the Irrawaddy delta in Lower Myanmar.

At Twante, the finds consisted of “unglazed ware of various designs, opaque white glazed wares, white and green glazed ware, and celadon ware”, with the celadons in the majority (Nan 2007: 19).

Testing of green-and-white ware from the Tak Om Koi burial sites as well as from northern Sumatra has shown that the clay body and glazing are similar to sherds found at Twante. Unfortunately, looting has caused the sites to be severely disturbed and the precise kilns where the sherds were collected cannot be identified.

In 1986, two Japanese researchers Hasebe Gakuji and Kazuo Yamasaki tested the mineral content of some green-and-white wares. The analysis showed that the opaque white colour of the glaze contained tin and lead, while the green was from copper, such as this bowl below. It has an unusual outside wall decorated with triangular lotus panels

15th C
H: 8 cm, D: 18.5 cm
Private collection.
Of note is the interior decoration, with its emphasis on a circular motif, which is floral here. Roxanna Brown (1988:102) thinks that these rondel type of motifs could possibly indicate a Middle Eastern influence, as they seem to recall the “evil eye” of that part of the world. This should be taken in conjunction with the use of the tin, lead and copper in the glazing. Using these minerals is not native to Southeast Asia or China, and we should probably look to the Middle East for the origin of such a glaze.

Sources: Miksic 2009; Nan 2007Myo 2002; Brown 1988; Hein 2003