This is a handsome charger in underglaze blue and white from the Sawankhalok district in the northern part of Sukothai Province, northern Thailand. The charger has a fine design of six stylized flowers surrounding a central reserve of a calligraphic figure - not translated. These are all enclosed in a double ring - which, which another band of flowers is found - again are enclosed by a double ring. The outer rim has a thin band of geometric extended circles. On the bottom of the charger is a design of five flowers connected by vines. The inner base of the foot is plain with a light ivory colored glaze.
The chargers had a section on one side that had been broken off at one point many years ago. This has been expertly repaired by a master restorer - the lines are still faintly visible and no attempt was made to cover them with new glaze. The charger is completely stable and is still a superb example of early Southeast Asian ceramics. The piece measures 10" diameter and is 1 1/2" deep. We date it to the late 14th to early 16th centuries.
There is some confusion over nomenclature. High fired glazed ceramics were produced in the Kingdom of Sukuthai at Sisatchanalai and near the city of Sukuthai. Here these are referred to as Sukothai Town Wares. Some have called these wares; and, indeed, other glazed stoneware -Sawankhalok. Sukothai Town Wares were probably produced from the early 14th century until the middle of the 16th century. Wares from the hundreds of kilns at Sisatchanalai were exported in enormous quantities to Indonesia and the Philippines. For a long time these wares, recovered from burial sites, were all that most people knew about Thai ceramics.
The most intriguing questions about these kilns are their dating and their origin. It is now certain that many of the potters were indigenous - not imported Chinese - and the origin of the craft may have been in the north. Early fourteenth century wares - some remarkably fine, were probably made for local consumption. However, after Ayuthya absorbed Sukothai at the beginning of the 15th century, Chinese merchants based in Ayuthya started an extensive export trade to fill the gap left after the Ming banned private exports. The industry appears to have come to an end after the Burmese destruction of the Thai world in 1569.