The rooster bowl is an object at odds with the contemporary world. With advances in technology, modernization and mass production, it’s always refreshing to see the vibrant brushwork that sets each bowl apart from eachother. Since its very beginning, it was always intended for ordinary people to use everyday, in the kitchen, at the dining table at home or even at a street food stall. There exists a quiet and humble beauty in their imperfection, unevenly potted, glaze drips or fading decorations. Odd as it may sound these ‘defects’ add to their wonderful charm and individual character. The following are a small sample from my personal collection.
A small group of chinese craftsman from southern China started to produce bowls with hand painted roosters in a blue glaze, with very simple brushwork.
Rooster bowls were imported from China and were sold at Yaowarrat, Bangkok's chinatown. Demand was high as these bowls were inexpensive, easy to hold in one hand, and also very durable.
In China, the painting technique started to develop and included the brightly coloured scene of the rooster with a banana tree to the right and pink peony flower to the left.
Some potters settled in Lamparng province in the north of Thailand, after finding good quality white clay in the area, they started production immediately. A good quality 6 inch bowl retailed for 1.50 baht.
More and more workshops established and the classical octagonal shape started to be phased out as the round bowls were much faster to produce using a wooden mold. complete with feet already attached.
In Lampang, the variation between each factory is evident. Some displaying a very expressive, less detailed depiction of the subject, utilizing broad brushstrokes, full of movement and vitality.
A very unique bowl, these were much smaller than any other rooster bowls. four bowls filled with water sat on the kitchen floor, upon it rests the legs of a Thai pantry, a clever device to keep the ants away.
A new factory was set up in Samutsakorn. These bowls were painted, glazed and fired only once, with the painted rooster as an underglaze. The distinguishing feature is the blue and green rooster.
Bowls continued to be produced in Samutsakorn, with a more simplified style and the characteristic clear glaze over the top. Bowls from this period has the distinctive blue and pink rooster with very thrifty brushwork.
Bowls from the Lampang region were also being produced at the same time, with a slightly different technique of painting straight onto the surface after the bowl has been fired. But still retaining the bright orange rooster.