What is Benjarong?
Benjarong is a traditional form of painted Thai ceramics porcelain. Benja means five and rong means color. In the past, the primary colors in Benjarong were black, green, yellow, red and white. Nowadays, since the patterns have been developed to the stories from Buddha’s biography and Thai culture and tradition, more colors are required, and now the craftsmen have over 16 colors to work with.
Benjarong may have been introduced to Thailand by the Chinese. Painted designs on white porcelain originated in China during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In the early days, Benjarong porcelain was made only for the royal court and the aristocracy. Benjarong has been manufactured for hundreds of years and requires exceptional skill to produce. Only a few elite artisans can create these, and it takes them days just to finish one piece!
Each individual workpiece requires excellent craftsmanship from a complex manufacturing process. There are 9 painstaking processes to make one Benjarong, including the make of white ceramic and painting pattern. But the steps can vary depending on each artisan, patterns, and techniques.
Making white glazed ceramic
- It begins with finding soils from different provinces.
- An artisan molds clay into the desired shape.
- After being shaped on a pottery wheel, the Benjarong item is set in a kiln for 10 hours at 1472°F (800°C).
- Once it cools, the item is coated with a glaze and bake for another 10 hours at an even higher temperature, until it gleams.
- Draw the pattern outlines, to facilitate the pattern drawing, and to create a clear pattern that isn’t overlapping or disproportionate.
- Artists paint designs with liquid gold. This gild is executed only by veteran workers who have over decades of experience.
- Another worker traces around the golden lines with colored paints.
- After the painting is complete, the craftsman will check and finish any small details on the workpiece, and apply golden solution paint onto the workpiece’ cover, in order to improve the workpiece’s attractiveness.
- Finish with another blast in the oven.
You can see the basic steps in making a Benjarong in this video!
The Pattern of Elephant
Benjarong, have a variety of complex patterns inherited from Thai art and culture. Elephant is a part of Thai culture and the Thai way of life in the past. They are a traditional symbol of royal power, an essential feature of Buddhist art and architecture, an a spiritual mentor for people of all walks of life. This elephant design is truly give a Thai sense to it!
Elephants and Thai Culture
The importance of elephants in Thai culture is rooted in history and religion, but is visible until now. Throughout Thai history, elephants have been used to assist in the construction, to help clear forests and logging. In Buddhist legend it is believed that Queen Maya (mother of the Buddha) was only able to conceive after having a dream that a white elephant entered inside her. This is why the white elephant is seen as highly auspicious and enjoys royal status in Thailand. Elephants are incorporated in art, clothing, adverts and brands. And of course, in Benjarong!
The many uses of this Benjarong mug
Benjarong porcelain once was reserved only for Thailand’s elite. Thai royalty ate from delicate Benjarong dishes and plates. Nowadays, Benjarong porcelain has become widely used in homes and hotels as decorative pieces. This mug also has a variety of purposes.
- Use it as a normal mug
- Nice for decoration
- Gift for your special ones
- Show in your home or office
Making from love – Buran Benjarong
Buran Benjarong and Ceramic Co., Ltd. was founded on March 22, 1994 in a small rental house in Samut Sakhon, Thailand. Started with a capital of only ten thousand baht by producing within the family. Witoon and Somchit (older sisters) who initiated the early Benjarong production.
At first, it was produced based on their own preferences by imitating the old Benjarong. It was enough to sell with a small production. After producing it for a while, they found that if they continued to produce their work from only what they like like this, they would not be able to keep selling.
As Witoon is a person who likes to experiment things. He did many trial and error which continually resulted in a formula for making “Benjarong embossed color” and getting a different shade of Benjarong that was unique and different from the market. After that, Buran Benjarong began to produce “embossed Benjarong” to the market.
Buran Benjarong takes quality as a top priority, including the pattern that must not imitate anyone, must be beautiful, and meet the needs of customers.
The production of Buran Benjarong does not adhere to old ideas. This allows them to get new products all the time. And with no framework and adherence to the old style, this makes their work famous for “Benjarong outside the box”.
At Buran Benjarong, there are 5 steps of intensive quality inspection including quality of raw materials used, the gold used to produce it must be authentic gold, only high quality white glazed tiles must be of good quality. Honesty is also a key factor. These make them be acceptable among customers.
Artistic quality is certified with many awards
OTOP 5 Stars in 2009 – One Tambon One Product (OTOP) Project is one of the government’s urgent policies encouraging Thai communities to make use of Thai wisdom. The government helps impart modern knowledge and manage to introduce the products to the domestic and international markets through chain stores and outlets. Buran Benjarong was awarded with OTOP Product Champion in 2009 in the wares/decoration/souvenir category.
The SUPPORT Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (Public Organization) – The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand (SACICT) is the main organization with the objectives to preserve and promote local arts and crafts for excellent, organize the contests and sale of local arts and crafts products as local wisdom. Buran Benjarong continues to keep producing high quality products while enhancing their products designs.
PM Award (Prime Minister’s Export Award) – The Prime Minister’s Export Award was established in 1992 by the. Ministry of Commerce, Royal Thai Government. Buran Benjarong was awarded in 2008 for the OTOP Export Recognition. This can ensure customers with high quality standards in the manufacturing. Buran Benjarong are making and carving a niche and unique products.