Bencharong is a type of porcelain renowned for its unique form, design, color schemes and graceful beauty. The name derives from two Sanskrit words — panch ("five") and rong ("colour") — and relates to the number of colours traditionally used on a single piece. In practice, the acutal number varies from three to eight. The number signifies the five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal, water — all of which are used for making Bencharong: water mixed with earth produces clay; wood ignites, making fire to harden clay; and the finished pieces are often gilded with 12K or 18K gold to accentuate the decoration.
The craft originated in China and gained popularity in Thailand in the 18th century, enjoying royal patronage from the Chakri Dynasty. As such, traditional Bencharong items were designed to grace the royal dining table in the form of food containers or tea sets.
Even though our visit to the Bencharong House in Samut Songkhram was brief, it was very obvious how much time and effort go into each and every piece of these special porcelain art objects. If you ever visit Thailand, don't forget to pick some up as souvenirs!