Medallion from Sukhothai underglaze fish plate T-717.
Last modified:
28 Oct 2001

Si-Satchanalai ceramics on Turiang

The Si-Satchanalai ware on the Turiang is made of two different clays. The first is a secondary (lower grade) clay which varies from brick-red to a dark grey-brown to almost black. The second is a near-white clay, often with a yellowish cast. Both types are densely speckled with tiny black impurities, contrasting with the larger white specks in Sukhothai clay. None of these clays are even remotely similar to the uniformly light grey clay used for the mature celadon on the Royal Nanhai and Longquan wrecks. The clay used for the Nanyang celadon was different again: creamy in texture and colour.

Early blackish brown-glazed ware

Photo of brown-glazed ring-handled bottles.This crudely-potted, heavy ware is made with the dark clay, unevenly mixed. A thin opaque glaze generally stops well short of the base, although often running down messily. These ceramics are referred to by TCAP as 'Mon ware'.

The early brown-glazed wares recovered from the Turiang include ring-handled bottles, mostly with a flared mouth, 9-13cm high. They have a flat base, often with curved concentric lines which result from being cut from a turning wheel with a fine cord. Some have thin handles which stretch down the body. The shapes vary considerably: many are tall and narrow, others bulbous, and others almost pear-shaped. Some have vertical or slanting striations.

Photo of brown-glazed storage jar.Drawing of storage jar T-430.Many storage jars of this ware were found, mostly broken at the neck; many are still buried in the seabed. Three were recovered. They have four lug handles and a flared mouth. They are 33cm high and would hold about 12 litres of liquid. The flat base is made from a distinct disc of clay, on which the walls were coiled. Of the samples, one is marred at the top by blisters from trapped air bubbles. Some much larger storage jars were too big to be retrieved to date; similar examples from the Royal Nanhai had a capacity of 75 litres and contained fishbones.

Early underglaze ware

Photo of fishplate.Photo of fishplate.The early Si-Satchanalai underglaze ware, painted on slip, uses the Mon clay, and is also characterised by TCAP as 'Mon ware'. The underglaze decoration is painted over a thin yellowish-white slip which, in contrast to the Sukhothai ware, is carefully applied. The slip is generally applied over the whole shape, including the exterior of the foot-ring. Foot-rings are well carved, with tapered sides and a shallowly recessed base in which accidental patches of slip can be noticed. Rims have a raised lip, more pronounced than on the Sukhothai counterparts.

Flower medallion from T-410.
Flower medallion from T-043.
Flower medallion from T-042.

All of the Si-Satchanalai underglaze ceramics on the Turiang are plates, 25.5-27cm in diameter and 4.5-6.5cm high. Most have fish and flower decorations. The fish designs are less exuberant than the Sukhothai versions, but more carefully drawn, frequently with foliage trailing from the mouth. The floral designs are very stylized, and so far unique to Si-Satchanalai, with no hint of other origin. The glaze, where it remains, is generally clear with a green tinge, but sometimes glassy, crackled and dark green.

Most of the plates have spur marks in the lower interior, and a few have the circular impression of a tubular firing support on the base. The circular support scars are less pronounced on the Turiang plates than the black scars seen on later Si-Satchanalai ware, such as the mature celadon from the Royal Nanhai and Longquan wrecks. Later supports appear to have been attached with some sort of glue (so that the support could be used as a handle for dipping into the glaze), whereas the slight depressions on the ceramics from the Turiang and Nanyang seem to have been from simply supporting the unfired objects in the kiln.

Si Satchanalai floral plate with fine clay & thick glazeWhereas all Sukhothai underglaze dishes on the Turiang have pitted glaze, the remaining glaze on the Si-Satchanalai ware shows no evidence of pitting. Similar underglaze wares using the finer clay without slip are referred to by TCAP as 'Mon associated stoneware'. There are two examples of the latter on the Turiang, including the plate in the next photograph. These plates are covered with a thick glaze which survived better than the glaze on other early Si-Satchanalai underglaze wares.

Early green-glazed ware

This has no slip, and a watery glaze ranging in colour from pale to dark green, suggestive of an underdeveloped celadon glaze. The same near-white clay with black impurities is used. Foot-rings are not as well formed, and frequently there is no recess in the base. Generally only traces of glaze remain: many objects appear to have been underfired, allowing the glaze to peel away. These ceramics were referred to by TCAP as 'transitional stoneware'.

Photo of plain jarlets.Photo of jarlets with vertical striations.The Turiang carried early green-glazed bottles of many shapes and sizes, including a number which are roughly spherical and have two ring handles. The largest of these are about 15cm high and undecorated; they have the size and shape of coconuts and are disrespectfully known as 'coconut jars'. Small 'jarlets' are 7-8.5cm high. The ring-handled jarlets and the medium-sized jars, 10-12cm high, are decorated with two rows of vertical striations. They are unglazed inside. (Over ten thousand jarlets were found on the Royal Nanhai, but only small numbers on the Nanyang and Turiang. Jarlets have been found in burial sites throughout Southeast Asia, and in the Philippines were used to hold perfume, cosmetics, medicines and charms¹. In the jarlets on the wrecks, there is no evidence of contents. The large quantity on the Royal Nanhai is intriguing.)

Photo of mini-jarlets.The Turiang cargo also included plain mini-jarlets without handles, 4.5-7cm high; tall bottles with two ring handles, 18.5-20cm high with a flat or shallowly-recessed base and vertical striations; bottle vases; and covered jars. No dish-shapes have yet been found in the early green-glazed ware.

Photo of bottle-vases with vertical striations.

Photo of bottle with vertical striations. Photo of peacock vase with vertical striations.

The bottle-vases are of two types. One is decorated with vertical striations and/or carved rings. The other, made of notably lighter clay, has incised decoration, common on later celadon. One pear shaped bottle-vase of the latter type, 27cm high, features a stylized peacock with elaborate cloud motifs.

Photo of green-glazed covered jars.Photo of Thai green-glazed guan.Four covered jars recovered had lids with lotus-bud handles. These were of three different sizes (12-13, 15, and 18cm high, without the covers). The two smallest jars are still sealed, and are decorated with wide striations; the others have carved rings at the shoulder.

Another early green-glazed item worth mention is a 'guan' style jar, 18cm high and 25cm in diameter. This pot is similar in form to a Chinese guan jar found on board, although the structure is different and the Thai jar has very little trace of decoration. It is interesting that two similar products of different origin are found on the one wreck.

  1. Allison I. Diem, 'Vietnamese blue and white ceramics in the Philippines: late 14th-16th centuries' in Gotuaco, Tan & Diem, 1997, op.cit., p.194.

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