Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia

San Kamphaeng kilns

View all related objects in the collections

The old community of San Kamphaeng, now a district town, was located on the overland trade route connecting Chiang Mai, Lamphun, and Lampang (Kraisri 1960, 62). Roxanna Brown describes the San Kamphaeng kiln complex as the second most extensive in Lan Na (Brown 1988, 82). Sayan Prishanchit proposes that the San Kamphaeng kilns operated from the first half of the thirteenth century to the late sixteenth century, and he offers a preliminary chronology based on the following evidence (Sayan 1999, 170):

1) Inground kiln structures and ware types were similar to those of the MON phase of activity (Most Original Node, thirteenth-fourteeth century) at Sawankhalok. (Sayan mentions a date of eleventh-twelfth century for this phase, but Don Hein now dates it tentatively to the thirteenth-fourteenth century Hein 2001.)

2) Wat Chiang Saen in Sam Kamphaeng district was constructed circa 1451-88. Archaeological excavation at the site recovered green-glazed wares from the stratum below that of the temple construction.

3) According to the Chiang Mai Chronicle, in 1365 (at the end of the Yuan period) the Chinese court's request for tribute from Chiang Mai included "1,000 ceramic plates of Jaesak," including 500 decorated pieces, 200 green-glazed pieces, and 300 white wares. (Sayan admits this association with San Kamphaeng wares is not definitive.)

Sayan also mentions that small quantities of San Kamphaeng wares have been excavated from sites in the cities of Suphanburi and Ayutthaya (Sayan 1999, 171). These finds may be relevant to the discovery of San Kamphaeng dishes on two shipwrecks dating to the late fourteenth or early fifteenth century, together with large unglazed gray jars from the Ban Bang Pun kilns near Suphanburi (Brown 2004). The dishes are green glazed on the interior and unglazed on the exterior. A similar dish was collected in the Philippines by the Guthe expedition and is now in the collection of the Museum of Anthropology, University of Michigan.