eMuseum Southeast Asia Ceramics


Thai ceramics were among the first Southeast Asian wares to be seriously studied, starting with WA Graham’s 1922 article “Pottery in Siam” in the Journal of the Siam Society. The field only gained momentum in the 1960s following Charles Nelson Spinks’ important contributions on Tai pottery and in the 1970s from the discovery of the Prasat Ban Phluang temple site.

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


The Kalong kilns were discovered in 1933, but still unstudied in 1977 when Brown wrote her Master of Arts thesis on the Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification.

A common characteristic of the Kalong kilns is their “fine-grained whitish body, the clay source of which may have been one reason for the location of the kilns” and the reason for the high quality of the Kalong ware, which considered by many to be the finest of all Thai ceramics. The wares are finely potted throughout and another feature is that they generally have wide bases. (Brown 1988: 84-86)

Kalong is best known for its underglaze black motifs, though potters there also made monochromes of celadon, black, brown and even green lead-glaze. This bowl with an underglaze black decoration shows a dark brown design of abstract birds or bats, sometimes known as the “black crow” design.
14th-16th C
H: 5 cm, D: 21 cm
Private collection
Brown identifies a monochrome unique to Kalong, called the “rain-cloud grey” which is a translucent greyish tinted glaze (Brown 1988: 86). This jarlet with ring handles is an exceptional specimen showing this “rain-cloud grey” lead glaze.
H: 12.5 cm, D: 10 cm
Private collection

Kalong kiln waster comprising of a bowl and a fallen tubular support, or pontil, and assorted kiln furniture (one tall pontil, three stands of varying heights, and two tripod-shaped supports).
15th-16th C
Private collection

Kalong kiln wasters. From this picture, we can see that within a kiln, different types of monochromes were fired at the same time, ranging from the rain-grey to celadons. This implies that the glazes used were of similar type as the firing of the wares would have a certain specific timing.
Private collection

Brown reports that a villager had a dream and was led to the kiln in his yard. It has since been excavated and is now open to tourists.
(Photo source: Brown 1988: fig. 55)

At Kalong, over a hundred kilns have been reported, but only one mound has been systematically excavated. These are cross-draft

kilns, built by plastering clay over a bamboo framework, of the same type as in Haripunjaya, and all the northern Thai kilns. This is opposed to the brick kiln type used at Sukhothai and Sawankhalok/Si Satchanalai. Brown believes they operated from around 1300 to 1550

Sources: Brown 1988: 84-86; Miksic 2009: 57, 64



©2020 Southeast Asia Ceramic Society