One of the highlights of our trip to Chiang Mai was a visit to Baan Celadon. I knew very little about this unique pottery, but another woman in our group praised the beauty of Celadon so highly we knew we had to hit it up. Celadon is a form of pottery that originated in China. It was favored by royals long before the traditional blue and white work we associate with Chinese vases today. Celadon refers to both the pale jade color and type of glaze used on both earthenware and ceramics. The first known works of Celadon in Thailand date from the 13th century and were created by the Lanna people of northern Thailand, hence it’s popularity in Chiang Mai. There are several Celadon factories in Chiang Mai and all have excellent reputations. We toured Baan Celadon and were in for a treat!
The minute we walked through the door we were graciously greeted by English speaking women in traditional Thai dress. We happily agreed to take the tour. We learned that the clay used today is still sourced from local quarries and is fired in kilns created at the beginning of the 20th century. Some of the work is cast in molds, but many pieces are hand-thrown on a potter’s wheel. After the pieces have sufficiently dried, some are hand painted using very colorful natural dyes. It was fascinating to watch these huge pieces being intricately painted by local craftsmen and women. Some of the larger, more detailed work took up to 45 days to create.
After our tour, we were offered tea in Celadon cups while we browsed the store. There was a tremendous variety of tea sets, tableware, vases, lamps and statues on offer. They ranged in price from a few dollars to thousands, with the hand painted items at the upper end. I ended up selecting a small, solid green, elephant lamp which was shipped by sea. It was like Christmas when two months later my Thai Celadon lamp arrived. My total purchase, including shipping ran $125 which I consider a great bargain.
The night markets and bargain shopping can be really fun in Chiang Mai, but don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of the truly fabulous custom shops like Baan Celadon.