What is Bencharong Urns?

The History Of Bencharong Urns

Bencharongware is a traditional style/ form of pottery from Thailand which consist of exquisitely hand-painted multi-colored enamels on a white porcelain base which originated from the Ming Dynasty China. The name “Bencharong” is derived from the Pali and Sanskrit words “Bencha” and “Rong”, literally meaning “Five Colors”. In China, the original hand-painted pieces were usually decorated in three colors but in Thailand, Bencharong has up to eight colors, sometimes more as red, yellow, white, black, blue, green with pink, purple, orange, and brown have also been incorporated. The reason for this inconsistency meaning is uncertain but it may be that the number five is significant in Buddhism, which also signifies five elements of nature; wood, fire, earth, metal, water, and all of these elements, except metal, are used to making ceramics. Water mixed with earth produces clay and wood ignites making a fire to harden clay. The colors are mineral over-glaze on polychromed white porcelain. The process of firing these exceptionally beautiful pieces takes up to 10 hours at a temperature between 750-800°. The finished result is a glass matrix enamel finish that resists fading, staining or scratching.

Bencharongware can be easily recognized by its distinctive and unique Thai design features:

  1. The decoration is densely hand-painted and very delicately detailed. Most patterns are symmetrical based geometrical designs and generally cover the entire surface from base to top, with the curved and rounded shapes requiring extensive experience to create a pleasing pattern.
  2. Bencharong is enameled with relief glaze, emphasizing the background color, whereas Chinese porcelain is thinly painted and never emphasizes background color.
  3. Dazzling use of lavish gold which is represented prosperity.
  4. Patterns include traditional Thai motifs with meaningful best wishes, such as tropical flowers, plants, and flame designs, as well as mythological and cultural symbols, such as the Garuda (the half-man half-bird mount of the Hindu’s god Vishnu as a symbol of Thai Royalty and the emblem of the King).

In the 13th-18th Century, Bencharong was made exclusively for the Royal Court. It was used for entertaining foreign dignitaries and the elite. In later years it was sought by aristocrats and wealthy merchants. Today, people of all nationalities use Bencharongware for special occasions.

The designs on the earliest used a limited number of colors mostly for religious subjects, but eventually, a new design/ style grew which is known as “Lai Nam Thong”. Lai Nam Thong uses gold as its distinctive color for elegance and luxury pieces. In the reign of King Rama II (1809-1824) Lai Nam Thong wares with gorgeous gold accents were very popular. Today, original Bencharongware is displayed at the Thai National Museum, Bangkok.

Many years of apprenticeship are required for the most gifted artists to be able to produce worthy pieces for Royalty. With more than 50 years of experience in this field, The UniqueUrn gathered together the finest artisans to use techniques developed from the 18th century to produce instant museum collectible-quality pieces. Our emphasis is on using 18ct gold for the finest delicate designs and rejects all pieces with faults or blemishes.  In addition, we are vigilant with the strict use of quality materials in various as Thai porcelain, Bone China porcelain, and Celadon. As a result, we pride ourselves on providing the most exquisite Bencharong urns. These urns are a work of art and will look beautiful in any part of your home. A truly worthy urn for your loved ones.