Antique Ceramics: Sawankhalok / Si Satchanalai & Sukhothai Pottery of Thailand

September 13th, 2013

The high-fired glazed stoneware ceramics that were produced at the kilns in the Kingdom of Sukhothai from the 13th – 16th century are the pride of Thailand and much coveted by curators of museums and private collectors around the world. Although beautiful red earthenware unglazed urns and other artifacts dating back to 3600BC have been excavated at Ban Chiang, the zenith of ceramic production in Siam (Thailand) is frequently cited as Sawakhalok jars, plates, bowls, and vases in celadon (light green) and dark brown glaze from the 15th century.

Confusion sometimes arises over the nomenclature of antique Thai ceramics from this period. The term Sawankhalok is generally used interchangeably with ceramics from the city of Si Satchanalai in the Kingdom of Sukhothai, although it is also used to refer to a much wider area covering many hundreds of kilns in central Thailand. Ceramics produced in Sukhothai city are distinct from Si Satchanalai / Sawankhalok wares and comparisons of clay are made; Sukhothai is known for its courser clay with a high iron content, resulting in black specks. Studies of excavations sites at Ban Noi indicate that the production of glazed ceramics began in Si Satchanalai earlier than in Sukhothai. Another term encountered in the study of ceramics from this period is Sangkalok, a Thai term for ceramics made in both Si Satchanalai and Sukhothai during the Sukhothai period. As a side note, although the Lanna Kingdom in the north of Thailand produced beautiful glazed stoneware during the same period, it was not known to be exported.

Sawankhalok Ceramics: Antique Celadon Plates 16th Century
Sawankhalok Ceramics: Antique Celadon Plates 16th Century

Sawankhalok / Si Satchanalai & Sukhothai Ceramics (13th -16thC)

Ceramic wares from the hundreds of kilns located along the Yom River in Si Satchanalai as well as from Sukhothai city were exported in vast quantities to Indonesia and the Philippines where demand was great. Sawankhalok ware was also exported to Japan and the Middle-East. The export of both Thai and Vietnamese ceramics experienced a surge when the Chinese imperial court placed a ban on foreign export during the Ming period, leaving a gap to be filled. For the duration of the 15th century, Thailand and Vietnam became the most important suppliers of ceramics to the SE Asian market. During the first half of the 15thC Vietnamese and Thai iron-painted ware were popular but by the latter part of the 15th century it was Thai celadon and Vietnamese blue and white wares that were in demand.

A deeper understanding of Thai trade ceramics during this period has been made possible largely by studies of the maritime trade in Southeast Asia, in particular shipwrecked junks carrying ceramics to Indonesia and the Philippines. Over the past 22 years some 10 shipwrecks have been discovered in the gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea. Often amongst the cargo were Chinese ceramics for which stronger dating was possible thanks to detailed records, allowing the basis of a chronology of Thai ceramics to be formed. The foremost expert in the field was the late Dr Brown whose book, “The Ming Gap and Shipwreck Ceramics in Southeast Asia- Towards a Chronology of Thai Trade Ware” was published in 2009.

Excavations in Indonesia and the Philippines and recoveries from shipwrecks indicate that the iron-painted black fish and floral motif plates constituted the first wave of popular Thai ceramics in SE Asia, probably originating from the kilns of Sukhothai. The earliest Sukhothai iron-painted wares were discovered at the Turiang shipwreck dated around the late 14th century. Thai wares made up around 35% of the cargo and included some Sawankhalok celadon jars and vases. Early Sukhothai wares were sparsely decorated with fish or floral motifs. More elaborate decoration was present on pieces from the Nanyang wreck dated to the 1420-30s.

By this time large celadon plates (also termed shallow bowls) from the Sawankhalok kilns were in production. In the 1450-60’s iron-painted wares lost popularity to Thai Celadon and Vietnamese blue and white wares though production of iron-painted ware continued in a reduced capacity and consisted of mainly jars, plates and bowls. Usually a circular scar of the support disc could be seen on the base.

16thC Sawankhalok Ceramics: showing circular scar from support disc
16thC Sawankhalok Ceramics: showing circular scar from support disc

The Royal Nanhai Shipwreck

Another wreck that has provided important information on the chronology of Thai trade ceramics is known as the Royal Nanhai Wreck, a Siamese junk that is thought to have sunk off the coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea around mid 15th century, supported by carbon 14 dating corresponding to 1400 A.D +/- 70 years.  The junk was transporting over 20,000 pieces of green and brown glazed celadon ceramics to Eastern Java. The wreck was discovered in 1992. Most of the Thai cargo consisted of celadon ware from the famous Si Satchanalai kilns as well as black glazed stoneware jars with lids. The presence of blue and white Chinese porcelain confirmed a dating of the cargo to the mid-late 1400s.  Of the some 20,000 pieces on board, only 20% were recoverable, with nearly 3,000 pieces going to the National Museum in Kuala Lumpur. A small number of pieces 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.

Si Satchanalai Jars from Royal Nanhai Shipwreck Circa 1460
Si Satchanalai Jars from Royal Nanhai Shipwreck Circa 1460
Marine Growth on Jars Recovered from the 15th Century Royal Nanhai Shipwreck
Marine Growth on Jars Recovered from the 15th Century Royal Nanhai Shipwreck

By 1500, during the Ming Hongzhi period in China, blue and white wares emerged as the most highly demanded ceramics in Southeast Asia. Thai celadon and brown wares lost favor and as demand fell so did the quality- dramatically. In an effort to revive Thai ceramics exports in the 16th century, Thai  potters introduced decorations in underglaze iron-painted black and created a niche in cover boxes, kendi and bowls. It was also during the 16th century that opaque white glaze wares were introduced. By the middle of the 16th century the Burmese invaded Siam in the first of the Burmese-Siamese wars, effectively ending production at the Sawankhalok and Sukhothai kilns. In the centuries that followed, unglazed stoneware was produced at Singburi and near Ayutthaya and Chinese and Japanese blue and white wares were imported for everyday use. In the early 20th century the production of ceramics began to thrive in Chiang Mai and Lampang, both in celadon and blue and white ware, some of which was influenced by Chinese designs. The ceramics featured in this article are currently available – just click on the photos for more details.

Early 20th Century Ceramic Vase from Chiang Mai
Early 20th Century Ceramic Vase from Chiang Mai

Antiques, Artifacts & Tribal Textiles from Burma

May 2nd, 2013

The diversity and beauty of Burmese arts, crafts and architecture was immediately apparent to early visitors of this ethnically rich region, and today, as the doors of tourism open wider, more people are discovering the wonderful artistic traditions of Burma which began over 2,000 years ago.

Shwedagon Pagoda by Night in Yangon, Burma
Shwedagon Pagoda by Night in Yangon, Burma

Distinctive works of art to be found in Burma include remarkable feats of architecture (notably the magnificent Shwedagon Pagoda and the temples of Bagan), bronze work, wood carving, lacquerware, jewellery, ceramics, and textiles. These artistic traditions are largely the legacy of two great influences. Firstly, there are 135 officially recognized ethnic groups in Burma, divided into eight main groups, each with their own unique culture, customs and artistic traditions. Secondly, over the centuries, animism and Buddhism have provided a major source of inspiration for artisans. Evidence of this is apparent at every turn in Burma, from pagodas, images of the Buddha in wood and bronze to Nat spirit sculptures believed to act as guardians and which fulfill an important role in the ‘supernatural’ aspect of life for the peoples of Burma.

Pagodas of Bagan in Rainy Season
Pagodas of Bagan in Rainy Season
Temple at Inle Lake
Temple at Inle Lake

Burmese art forms are often highly imaginative and robust, with an emphasis on surface decoration. Unlike the perception of art in the west, the Burmese make no distinctions between so called ‘fine arts’ such as painting and sculpture and ‘applied arts’ such as the making of lacquerware, bronze bells and wood carvings. Objects of beauty were made for the purpose of furnishing Buddhist temples, royal courts as well as providing common people with well crafted, attractive objects for everyday use. Objet d’art includes highly decorated lacquered bamboo containers used for storing food, bronze zoomorphic weights once used in the market place, bronze bells worn by livestock, and even skillfully carved images made to adorn the facade of simple ox carts. The use of gold and precious stones was generally reserved for works of art found in temples and the royal court.

Featured below and now available in the gallery are some of the artifacts from Burma referred to above. We’ve also included a few photos of these artifacts in a home décor setting and additional Asian home décor photographs can be viewed in the Photo Gallery.

Burmese Antiques: Shan Pipe, Opium Weight, Buffalo Bell
Burmese Antiques: Shan Pipe, Opium Weight, Buffalo Bell
Burmese Antiques: Naga Sculpture, Lacquerware Box, Spirit Wood Carving
Burmese Antiques: Naga Sculpture, Lacquerware Box, Spirit Wood Carving
Burmese Antiques: Collection of Burmese antiques from the gallery.
Asian Home Decor: Hsun-Ok Lacquerware, pre-16thC Sukothai Cermic Bowl
Asian Home Decor: Hsun-Ok Lacquerware, pre-16thC Sukothai Cermic Bowl
Antique Bronze Bell, Antique Buddha Robe Fragment, Antique Naga Carving
Antique Bronze Bell, Antique Buddha Robe Fragment, Antique Naga Carving
Naga Tribal Sofa Throw, Bronze Buddha, Naga, Silk Runner, Sukhothai Pottery
Naga Tribal Sofa Throw, Bronze Buddha, Naga, Silk Runner, Sukhothai Pottery

We recently supplied a selection of tribal textiles from the Naga living in north-west Burma for an upcoming exhibition at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York City and have since added several excellent new examples of Naga weaving resplendent with ancient tribal motifs.

Bronze Buddha Statues & Buddhist Art

December 31st, 2012

Of all the works of art originating in Asia, bronze Buddha statues and devotional paintings are amongst the most beautiful and inspiring artifacts to be incorporated into home decor. Statues and paintings of the Buddha help to create a serene and aesthetically pleasing home environment, reminding us of one of the most profoundly important figures in the history of mankind. The story and teachings of the Buddha are deeply intriguing and offer for the earnest seeker, liberation from suffering and direct insight into Absolute Truth. Buddhism has survived nearly 2600 years and remains an extremely important source of practical wisdom today. The teachings of the Buddha, along with the works of subsequent enlightened teachers of the various schools of Buddhism, provide a guide to realizing one’s true nature beyond duality, psychological conditioning, and delusion.  Unlike most world religions, Buddhism neither seeks nor requires exclusive allegiance.

The world of Buddhist art is rich and extensive and takes many forms, varying from the highly descriptive Japanese 14th century Taima Manadala to the profoundly spiritual such as the 14thC Thai Buddha statue in the ‘calling the earth to witness’ posture; the informative such as the 10thC Pala Indian stele with the ‘Eight Great Events of the Buddha’ to the meditative serenity of the Amitabha Buddha from central Java. There is still much debate over when and where the first images of the Buddha appeared, though most historians agree that the earliest works of Buddhist art in India date back to 1st century B.C.

While these few examples shown are major works of Buddhist art found in museums, more affordable   representations of the Buddha made in the last century often retain the same beauty, and communicate the same profound message of freedom that remains the legacy of the Buddha.  Below are examples of Buddha statues from the 20th century and devotional temple paintings on canvass listed in our gallery as well as photos of impressive Buddha images that we’ve encountered in our travels throughout SE Asia. They demonstrate the various mudras or hand positions of the Buddha, each with a distinct meaning. We will soon be adding more bronze Buddha statues to our gallery. For a brief description of the life of the Buddha, the essential teaching of the Buddha, and an explanation of the mudras and symbols of Buddhist art, read Buddhist Art and its Symbolism.

Bronze Buddha Statues

Thai Buddhist Temple Scroll Paintings

Asian Antiques from Laos

October 12th, 2012

Asian antiques from Laos are amongst the most interesting artifacts to be found in SE Asia. With its diverse ethnicity, Laos has a rich tradition of fashioning objects of beauty, many with utilitarian value. The people of Laos enjoy a simple, slow paced lifestyle, and are known for their friendly nature. We always enjoy our trips there and have made some good friends over time, especially ‘Mrs Vong’, an antique dealer who is one of the sweetest and quirkiest people we’ve met in our travels. Here I will feature a few of the antiques that we returned with from our most recent trip there as well as a few silk textiles that, while not antique, embody an art form that draws on techniques and symbolism that are over a thousand years old.

Antique Asian Sword Dha from Laos

This antique sword is commonly referred to as a dha, or daab and is one of the more ornate forms of this style of sword seen. The dha is common to Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Burma and is thought to date back to as far as the 16th century. It has served for centuries as a key weapon in disputes between neighboring SE Asian countries and is to light handle, and very effective.  We were told that this particular dha was not used as a military weapon but would most likely have been owned by a wealthy Laotian for personal use, indicated by the detailed bronze work found on the handle and scabbard. More commonly, the two bamboo pieces that form the scabbard were bound using rattan and sometimes resin. Read more about this dha

Elephant Opium Weights Laos
Elephant Opium Weights Laos

Elephant shaped opium weights are common to both Laos and Siam and are thought to have been in use from around the late 16th century. The elephant weights featured here are most likely from the 1800s and were popular amongst the Hmong minority hill tribe people to weigh opium. In contrast, animal weights from Burma which were in common use since the 14th century were used to weight a variety of materials including silver, gold, medicines and spices. We have seen genuine elephant weights in three sizes as featured here. Another les common variation is a mother elephant with baby, also available in the gallery.  Read more about elephant opium weights

Antique Opium Pipes
Antique Opium Pipes

We’ve been looking for genuine antique opium pipes for some time now and were fortunate to find two excellent examples made by the Hmong on our last trip to Laos. The Hmong were the first hill tribe to successfully cultivate opium poppies in the region, most notably in the area known as the Golden Triangle that encompasses Laos, Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. Both pipes are from the late 19th century and each is unique – one with a deer horn mouthpiece and the other with a decorated bronze smoking bowl and bone mouthpiece. The other pipe featured is a very handsome tobacco pipe that we couldn’t resist and is decorated with ornate silver bindings, a ceramic bowl and bone mouthpiece.  View our Antique Pipe Collection

Antique Hmong Silver Jewelry
Antique Hmong Silver Jewelry

The Hmong hill tribe people are famous for their love of silver jewelry and in the past fashioned beautiful, often flamboyant adornments by melting down French silver coins. Hmong silversmiths are recognized for their considerable skills and creative designs.  Hmong women often wear several large pieces of jewelry including silver torques, bracelets, pendants and hairpins. Featured here are an antique silver torque, soul lock pendant, and hairpin from the Hmong of Laos.  View our Antique Tribal Silver Jewelry Collection

Silk Wall Hangings from Laos
Silk Wall Hangings from Laos

With a population of just 6.5 million people, Laos is a small country with few exports. One of the most beautiful artistic traditions of Laos is their silk weaving, a tradition that has been handed down from mother to daughter for countless generations. It’s difficult to appreciate from photos alone the beauty of these woven works of art as it is the incredible skill, time and concentration that goes into weaving them. A complicated piece such as the first wall hanging featured here took over a month to complete. Woven into the textiles are deeply symbolic ancient motifs that are an integral part of Laotian culture. 

Please email us info@sabaidesignsgallery.com if you have any questions about any of the items featured here.

Asian Antiques

January 29th, 2012

Asian Antiques

We recently added a few interesting Asian antiques to the gallery after a brief trip to Burma that I would like to feature in this blog including an early 20thC lacquer ware container, an antique Burmese sculpture in the form of a Royal Court dancer and three rare opium weights, one dating back to the 1500s. I’ve written about several of the artistic traditions of Burma including opium weights and bronze bells but thought I would provide some background on what is one of the most important crafts in Burma, that of lacquer ware.

Burmese Lacquerware

The lacquer containers featured below echo a tradition that dates back some 3,000 years. Though it appears that the Burmese originally learned the craft from neighbouring states, Burma (or Myanmar) quickly became the exemplar of this important craft. One of the oldest existing examples of a lacquer object has been dated to 1284AD and was exhibited in Rangoon in 1918. It is said that the art of lacquer making did not reach its zenith until the Kon-baung Dynasty (1752-1885) when a wide variety of lacquer vessels were in production in the city of Bagan, also spelled Pagan. To this day the best specimens of lacquer ware are said to come from Bagan.

Lacquer ware is known as yun in Burma and the process is remarkably demanding both in terms of the skill and the investment of time required to complete a single piece. Lacquerware begins with the construction of the basic object either in bamboo or soft wood; often jackfruit wood.  Once the base is made the object is sealed with a layer of paste made from sawdust mixed with lacquer and left in an underground brick cellar to dry and harden for up to 10 days. The object is then polished on a primitive lathe using the dried leaf of the dahat tree, which has an emery-paper like surface. A second layer of sifted sawdust and lacquer is then applied and the object is returned to the cellar. This process is repeated several times with progressively finer coats of lacquer and sawdust, eventually  replaced with ash to be mixed with the lacquer until a final coat of the highest quality lacquer is applied offering a deep black lustrous surface.

Lacquer,  called thit-si in Burma is a sap from the Melanorrhoea Usitata, a tree that grows wild in Burma, mostly in the Shan States. Naturally black, other colours are achieved using additional pigments such as cinnabar (red) from China, orpiment (yellow) from the Shan states and green by combining the two. Blue comes from Indigo, usually obtained from India. The art of achieving just the right colour, particularly red/orange is a closely guarded secret by those with expert knowledge on the subject and it is said that the secret of the composition is passed down only from father to his most trusted son.

The surface embellishment of lacquer ware turns an everyday object into an artwork and the method used by the Burmese became renowned. The surface of the lacquer is engraved using a sharp iron stylus and the incisions filled with coloured pigment (first red/orange) to begin a design of which there are many.

The object is again left to dry in the cellar and any excess material is removed using paddy husks and water. The engraving is then sealed with resin and the second colour, usually green is added and so on. A complex piece will often have 3-4 colours as seen here and requires a great deal of time to complete, especially when traditional motifs cover the entire object.

Lacquerware takes an incredible variety of forms from simple everyday objects of utility to artworks of religious significance and provides a deep insight into Burmese social life and culture. One of the most ubiquitous items is known as kun-it, a cylindrical box consisting of several shallow trays for holding the ingredients to make a quid of betel to be chewed, which provides a mildly intoxicating effect. Two lovely examples of kun-it offered in the gallery are featured above.

A less common form of lacquer ware is the pyi-daung, a large vessel without trays that is used for carrying rice to the Buddhist temple where monks reside in their quest for enlightenment. This vessel would have taken several months to complete and features decoration referred to as let-taik-let-kya, which typically includes buildings alternating with human and animal figures, in this case dancers and forest dwelling deer.

The tradition of lacquerware making continues in Burma today and Bagan remains the most important centre for this craft. While quality pieces continue to be produced in Burma, there is a certain charisma that emanates from antique lacquerware that harks back to a different time and bears the marks of use in the context of Burmese society. We hope to add further antique lacquerware pieces to the gallery over the coming months of the year.

Hsun-ok and other Antique Lacquer ware Vessels

Antique Opium Weights from Burma

We would also like to the feature three fine opium weights still available from a handful that we recently returned with from Burma. There are noticeably fewer genuine opium weights being offered on each subsequent trip to Burma, especially the rarer styles. The oldest is a 10 tical beast weight also known as to-naya and is dated mid-late 16thC. It is in very good condition. I personally find this styling very charming. The second is another style of weight that is becoming exceedingly difficult to locate and is referred to as a ‘Mon Duck’ or ‘Sleeping Duck’ and is dated early 18thC. The third weight in the series is often referred to as a ‘Golden Hamsa’ and is dated late 17thC by Hartmut Mollat in his essay, ‘A Model Chronology of the Animal Weights of Burma’.

Antique Burmese Opium Weights

Antique Burmese Woodcarving – Royal Court Dancer

This sculpture of a dancer from Burma was a lovely find and exudes a jubilant mood. In Burma, sculptors using teak wood command a great deal of respect as artisans and this is a fine example of their work. It has been spared any damage – the fingers which are vulnerable have often been broken at the tips with older pieces. There are expected cracks in the paint in places but otherwise the image is in excellent condition and without repairs. It stands 23 inches tall and lends a joyous ambiance to a room.

Antique Burmese Wood Carving
Burmese Antiques

Ancient Artefacts and Tribal Textiles from Vietnam

November 3rd, 2011

We recently returned from a wonderful visit to Vietnam where we were reminded of the vibrant and progressive mood of the country and its people. Vietnam has a young population and their spirit of optimism is infectious. Still fresh in our minds are the things so distinctly Vietnamese: the cuisine with its freshness and subtle flavours, the sight of Vietnamese women in their traditional dress, the ao dai, older women in conical hats selling their produce, ancient citadels resting amongst French and Chinese influenced architecture, cups of syrupy local Robusta coffee that keep you sharp as you cross the streets amidst buzzing, unrelenting traffic….

Hanoi
Hanoi

We returned with dozens of new photographs, soon to be added to the photo gallery, as well as some very special antiques from the collection of long time Hanoi resident, Nguyen and her partner. Nguyen graduated from Hanoi University of Foreign Linguistic Studies and her love of Vietnamese cultural objects led to her career as a major collector of Vietnamese ethnographica. She has supplied the Museum of Fine Arts of Vietnam with many extraordinary antiques and tribal textiles over the years as well as the MET in New York.

We acquired a few special pieces from her impressive collection to offer our clients including three ancient unearthed artefacts dating back from 400 B.C to 100 A.D – a spearhead, bronze pot handle and a small bracelet with a striking green-blue patina from the Dong Son Period. We also retuned with a beautiful ceramic vessel salvaged from the Cham Island Shipwreck in the South China Sea that is 528 years old. Other antique pieces include a Red Dao Shamanic Printing Block that was used for making ritual money. Several framed prints will soon be available in the gallery made from a variety of such antique blocks. We were given highly detailed information on each piece including its provenance, history and the artistic traditions of the time. A certificate of authenticity will be provided for each piece along with notes on the object purchased.

Ancient Bracelet, Spearhead, Pot handle
Ancient Bracelet, Spearhead, Pot handle

Also new to the gallery are several tribal textiles from the Ta Oi, Hmong and Dao minority people of Vietnam. One of most endearing tribal items we’ve ever acquired is a pair of antique young boy’s  shoes from the Hmong in Lao Cai province. There are 53 ethnic minority peoples in Vietnam! From the Kinh people we offer a Ymon Panel, ‘The Burning Pearl’ made of cotton and embroidered with silk dating back to the early 20thC. Another relic of the past that we have never encountered before is a page from the book of a Thai Taoist Shaman from the 19thC written on parchment in beautiful script which has been framed.

We hope you enjoy viewing our new offerings and photos from Vietnam. If you have any questions about any of the items in the gallery please contact us at info@sabaidesignsgallery.com

Dao Hong Tu Minority Textile, Dao Minority Textile, Ta Oi Minority Textile
Dao Hong Tu Minority Textile, Dao Minority Textile, Ta Oi Minority Textile
19thC Shamanistic Ritual Instruction, Vintage Hmong Boy's Slippers
19thC Shamanistic Ritual Instruction, Vintage Hmong Boy’s Slippers

Tribal Silver Jewelry and other Artifacts Acquired on a Recent Trip to Laos

July 25th, 2011

Last week we returned from a visit to Laos where we enjoyed catching up with old friends and acquaintances in the antiques business. We had the good fortune of finding several lovely antique silver bracelets, pendants, torques and earrings along with a stunning temple bell, a village gong, and a few opium weights in the style of Lanna Thai and northern Laos as well some silk textiles.

The Lao or Laotians are a welcoming and slow paced people and we always enjoy our time spent in their undeveloped but charming country.  We noticed several changes in the capital, Vientiane; the development of the river bank and the restoration of the centuries old temple, Wat Si Saket., which is still in progress. There are also plans to relocate the shops in the old morning market or talart chow to an adjacent building which will be more in the style of Bangkok shopping malls. Locals and visitors alike are not convinced that these changes are necessarily for the best.

There was as expected both an appreciable decline in the number of authentic antiques available as well as a hike in the prices asked by local dealers. For years hill tribe peoples including the Hmong, Akha, Lisu, Lawa, Lahu and Shan have brought their old silver jewelry to the capital to sell, but the dealers tell us these visits have gone from a few visits a day 20 years ago, to once a month or so nowadays. The Shan and Hmong are well known for their silversmith skills and interesting tribal designs. The Hmong silversmiths favoured melted down French coins to work with, preferring the lustre and malleability of the silver. You can read more about the Hmong and their crafts in our article about our Hmong Collection.

Antique Hmong Silver
Antique Silver Hill Tribe Jewelry
Antique Hmong Silver
Antique Hill Tribe Silver Bangles
Antique Hmong Silver
Antique Silver Necklaces & Torque

As well as presenting here a small collection of the items that we acquired we have also included a few photos of the beautiful bronze Buddha images and temple embellishments from Wat Si Saket and Haw Pha Kaew, the former royal temple built in 1565 under the command of King Setthathirat.

Beautiful Bronze Buddha Statues Haw Pha Kaew
Old Buddha Statues Wat Si Saket
Bronze Buddha Statues Haw Pha Kaew
Naga Sculptures and Temple Doors Wat Si Saket

Asian Decor & Home Decorating Ideas

June 9th, 2011

Asian home decor has been recognized in the West as one of the most inspiring styles of interior design. Asian decor evokes a sense of serenity and at the same time stirs the soul . The Eastern aesthetic draws on thousands of years of history and is profoundly influenced by religious beliefs based on the ideal of absolute freedom. In Southeast Asia, Buddhism is a major source of inspiration for artistic expression and has produced wonderful works of art.

A few well chosen pieces of Asian art, artefacts or textiles can transform the ambiance of a room, rendering it a place of sanctuary and a respite from the cacophony of the world and its many demands. Unlike factory produced furnishings, Asian art, antiques and artefacts echo age old artistic traditions and have a certain indefinable ‘chi’ or energy that is tacitly felt.
 

Given that we spend much of our life in the home, it’s important to create an interior environment that is soothing and enlivens one’s imagination. A considered investment in Asian home decor can be one of the most rewarding in terms of home decorating. Conversely, it can lead to some of the gaudiest home decor when cheap and tacky decorations are chosen over the genuine article.

Featured below is a small collection of photos featuring art, antiques, tribal artefacts and textiles offered in our gallery.

Antique Buddha and Monks Wood Carving
Antique Buddha and Monks: Wood Carving
Lao Silk, Bronze Bell, Bronze Buddha, Antique Lanna Vase
Framed Silk Kimono, Burmese Lacquer kun-it, Lao Silk, Antique Bronze Bell, Antique Bronze Buddha, Antique Lanna Vase
Lao Silk, Cambodian Sculpture, Bronze Bell
Lao Silk, Cambodian Sculpture, Bronze Bell, Framed Buddhist Sutras
Antique Burmese Bell, Antique Thai Buddha, Antique Lanna Vase
Lao Silk, Antique Burmese Bell, Antique Thai Buddha, Antique Lanna Vase
Lao Silk, Burmese Bell, Japanese Style Buddha, Teppanom Angel
Lao Silk, Burmese Bell, Japanese Style Buddha, Teppanom Angel
Antique Buddhist Aureole
Antique Buddhist Aureole
Burmese Lacquerware
Burmese Lacquerware

Asian Antiques from Burma and Thailand

February 23rd, 2011

It’s no secret that authentic Asian antiques are becoming increasingly difficult to locate. Older antique dealers in Thailand often reminisce about times long gone by when you could buy Burmese opium weights in kilo bags for a song and old Burmese lacquerware was stacked up to the ceiling in their shops. The popularity of Asian antiques in America and Europe over the past few decades has led to a steady decline in supply in the region. Rare styles of opium weights, antique bronze bells, larger antique bronze sculptures and artefacts in general are all requiring a little more time and effort to track down. That being said, we recently returned from a trip during which we acquired several impressive new items from Burma and Thailand that we would like to feature.

Antique Burmese Lacquerware
Antique Burmese Lacquerware

Featured here are two large Burmese lacquerware vessels known as pyi-daung that were once used to carry offerings of rice to Buddhist temples and in the middle, a rare antique gold gilded Buddhist manuscript known as kammavaca that was presented to the Buddhist temple when a young monk ordained. View our Lacquerware Collection

Burmese Opium Weights
Burmese Opium Weights

Here are three rare forms of Burmese ‘opium weights’ dating back to the 1600s. These bronze zoomorphic figurines were used to weigh a variety of materials including precious metals, spices and medicines. They have become popular collectibles and represent a bygone era in Burmese history with production ceasing during the 1800s while under British rule. View our Opium Weight Collection

Antique Bronze Bells
Antique Bronze Bells

Three antique bells from the 19th century- the spherical bell is an elephant bell while the other two are pastoral bells, once used to help locate grazing livestock. Like virtually all Burmese utilitarian objects, they were created with mindfulness towards aesthetics. View our Bronze Bell Collection

Antique Bronze Buddha Statues

The three Buddha statues seen here are from Thailand and all are seated in the ‘earth witnessing posture’ representing the moment of the Buddha’s enlightenment when he touched the ground to bear witness to his awakening to Absolute Reality. The first two statues are in the Chiang Saen style of northern Siam while the third is in the Sukhothai style, characterized by the flame-like halo. View our Buddhist Art Collection

Antique Thai Ceramics
Antique Thai Ceramics

The antique ceramic pieces here are from Thailand – the blue glaze pieces are in La Na style (former northern kingdom) while the celadon plate is from 16th century Sukhothai, which was a major hub of ceramic production at the time.

Antique Buddhist Manuscript Box
Antique Buddhist Manuscript Box
Antique Elephant Bell, Burmese Kinnara, Monk Wood Carving
Antique Elephant Bell, Burmese Kinnara, Monk Wood Carving
Antique Buddhist Gilded Wood Carving
Antique Buddhist Gilded Wood Carving

Please click on the photos to be redirected to the listing with further details. The items featured in this blog represent just a few of the antiques from Burma and Thailand listed in our gallery so   browse our collections and if there is anything of particular interest to you please email us at info@sabaidesignsgallery.com

Loi Krathong in Chiang Mai 2010

November 25th, 2010

The people of Thailand and its visitors recently celebrated Loi Krathong, an ancient festival that falls on the full moon of the 12th month in the Thai lunar calendar, which is November in the Gregorian calendar. Three to five day festivals take place all over the country and one of the best places to take part in Loi Krathong is Chiang Mai, which includes the traditional Lanna ritual of launching paper lanterns (khom loi or khom yi-peng) and lighting fireworks. It is an unforgettable sight watch thousands of papers lanterns, some traling fireworks, fill the night sky.

Loi means to float and a krathong is a beautifully decorated float traditionally made from a banana tree trunk and decorated with flowers, leaves, a candle and often a coin. Floating a krathong provides an opportunity to let any negativity from the past float away and to renew optimism for the future.

Loy Krathong Festivities
Loy Krathong Festivities