Thai Pottery from Si Satchanalai in Rago’s March Great Estates Auction
8 March 2017
by Kelly Cleaver, Rago Great Estates Administrator
Rago’s March Great Estates Auction features an extensive collection of Thai pottery from Si Satchanalai, UNESCO world heritage site #574, highly coveted by collectors and museums.
Fine ceramic wares from the hundreds of kilns located along the Yom River in Si Satchanalai were exported throughout the Far East, Middle East, and Northern Africa in the 13th through 16th centuries. Demand surged in the 15th century when the Chinese, Asia’s main exporters of ceramics, placed a ban on foreign export during the Ming period.
In the last 20 years, a number of shipwrecked junks carrying ceramics to Indonesia and the Philippines have been discovered along maritime trade routes in the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. Much of what is known about Si Satchanalai pottery comes from the exploration of these shipwrecks and the recovery of their wares. One of the finest of these junks, the Royal Nanhai, discovered in 1992, is thought to have sunk off the coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea in the mid-15th century.
Most of the Thai cargo consisted of celadon ware from the Si Satchanalai kilns. Of the some 20,000 pieces of pottery on board, only 20% were recoverable, with nearly 3,000 pieces going to the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. A small number became available for sale, allowing some of the finest 15th century Si Satchanalai ceramics ever seen to be offered to private collectors and museums around the world, including the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Very few pieces remain available for sale today.