A Benjarong (Lai Nam Thong) tea set

A Benjarong (Lai Nam Thong) tea set. Each piece painted and gilt with continuous scenes of Thai literature “Honwichai-Khawi”

This tea set is one of the most distinguished lots going under the hammer on Saturday 6 June. It features two important components: one is its exquisite painting of liquid gold or Lai Nam Thong, the other is a precious Thai literary story.

Lai Nam Thong is the same enameled porcelain as Benjarong but with the addition of gold enamel. The brightness of the gold is derived from the firing technique. First, the colors were applied and fired at 700 ºc until they brightened. Then, gold enamel was applied and fired at 500 ºc.

Benjarong Lai Nam Thong originated during the reign of King Rama I and became popular throughout the reign of King Rama II - in the Rattanakosin era. But the use of Benjarong and Lai Nam Thong wares declined in the reign of King Rama V in part due to the embrace of western culture.

Another notable component of this lot is its meticulous and perfectly complete motifs featuring the story of Honwichai-Khawi or Suakhokamchan. This lesser-known story is the first example in Thai literature of poetry called “chan”. It was composed by an academic master in 1657 (in the middle Ayutthaya period). Its plot was adapted from a chapter in ‘chadok’ (birth stories in the ten lives before the Buddha became the enlightened one) about speaks of morals and The Law of Karma.