Medallion from Sukhothai underglaze fish plate T-717.
Last modified:
6 Mar 2001

Sukhothai ceramics on Turiang

Photo of fish plate.
Photo of fish plate.
Photo of fishplate T-093.
Photo of flower plate.
Fish medallion from plate T-087, found at top of a stack - see underwater photo in site description.
Fish medallion from plate T-553.
Fish medallion from plate T-011.
Profile of Sukhothai plate T-053.
Photo of fish plate, warped rim.
Photo of fish plate, with relatively small dull fish.

The Turiang carried large quantities of plates with fish and floral decorations in underglaze iron oxide. Plates of this shape and design seem to have been in production for three centuries, but the Turiang's are generally smaller and deeper than later examples, typically 21-24cm in diameter and 6.5-8cm high. Other documented examples, and those recovered from the Longquan and other shipwrecks investigated by Sten Sjostrand, are of 24-29cm diameter.

The decoration of the fish plates comprises a single fish at the interior bottom, encircled with two rings, with the tail often extending outside the border. Other rings decorate the rim, and the exterior walls. The ends of the rings almost never meet perfectly. The rim is usually slightly flattened, but can also be everted (curved convex exterior for the rim), with just a hint of a raised lip. Variations include an encircled band of chevrons for the rim. Occasionally the fish is accompanied by foliage, presumably seaweed. The fish vary considerably in design. Some face to the left and some to the right, whereas on plates so far recovered from the Longquan the fish nearly always face left.

The floral plates are similar, but in place of the fish have a single blossom with three or four stems. The flowers are probably intended to be chrysanthemum. The designs are very similar to those on the Vietnamese ceramics recovered.

Profile of underglaze bowl T-379.
Fish medallion from bowl T-379.
Interior of flower bowl T-380.

Some deeper bowls were found, of similar design but 8.5-9.5cm high, and 23-24.5cm in diameter. These bowls have a chevron scroll around the rim. Of the nine bowls recovered, one features a stylized chrysanthemum, and eight depict fish. The interiors of plates and bowls mostly have spur-disc marks; only 2% are scarred by a tubular support.

Photo of squat spherical bottles.
Photo of ring-handled bottles.

Other Sukhothai wares, also painted with iron oxide, include bottles of various shapes and sizes. The largest type, with ring handles, has notably thin walls. Decorations on these bottles are mostly running calligraphic scrolls. Like the flowers, the scrolls are similar to those on the Vietnamese ware. All oxide paintings are applied over a cream-coloured slip, which is often smeared near the foot-ring.

Underglaze bottle-vase T-329.Underglaze ring-handled bottle T-589.The clay is a gritty grey, which sometimes fires to red-brown, speckled with notable whitish impurities (quartz). The glaze is clear, or sometimes greenish - and riddled with pin holes, in a manner peculiar to Sukhothai. No smaller Sukhothai bowls have been seen in the cargo, while smaller Vietnamese equivalents are present in limited number. This is the reverse of the underglaze ceramic mix on the Longquan shipwreck, which had many Sukhothai bowls and none from Vietnam.

Sukhothai floral designs from Turiang
Sukhothai flower medallion 1. Sukhothai flower medallion 2. Sukhothai flower medallion 3. Sukhothai flower medallion 4. Sukhothai flower medallion 5.
Sukhothai flower medallion 6. Sukhothai flower medallion 7. Sukhothai flower medallion 8. Sukhothai flower medallion 9. Sukhothai flower medallion 10.

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