Khun Doris, then head of the Fulbright was also interested in Pottery. She told of the Pakred and Kohkred potteries. She may have also given us the idea to visit Khun Pisarn Boonpug. I am not sure of this. The potter was also listed in a small book I had managed to purchase on Pottery in Thailand before I left the US.
Koh means “island” and Koh kred is an Island in the Chao Praya river, the river that divides the old Thai capital of Thonburi from the new Thai capital of Krung Thep, City of Angels, known in the west by the little village that the city ate, Bangkok which likely meant village of makok, a fruit. Krung Thep is much more interesting. It could maybe be said to have a mirror in Los Angeles, also City of Angels, but Thep refers to Thai Angles and Krung Thep is only the abbreviated name. The full name, Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit
กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ translates as, City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of g-ds incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra’s behest.
Anyhow, Kohkred Island is upstream of there, a nice day trip.
Likely I will get some of the dates wrong, but I visited Koh Kred and Pakred on the eastern bank of the river in 1989. It is not that far from Don Muang airport. On the first occasion we took a boat upstream to a dock near Pakred and walked downstream to the earthenware potteries. We then took a boat across the river to Koh Kred and were met at the ferry by someone who appeared to be a tout. Really he just wanted us to enjoy the Island. He showed us the temple, the murals inside and described some history. The mortars on the island were stout, with very heavy rims and bases. They had more clay in them than any other mortars in Thailand. They were made by the thousands. While the mortars of Dankwian make the worlds most delicious green papaya salad, these mortars held up to the pounding of the pestles. They were durable. I do not know if they are still made.
The fuel in the kilns was palm fronds, the leaf stems. The mortars, fired hot, showed the orange peel texture of salt glazed ware. I asked the locals how much salt they were putting into the kilns. They said “salt doesn’t burn”. I thought
The wheels on the Island and in Pakred were single speed with many wheels run on separate shafts driven by long pulleys. Each wheel had a belt tensioner that acted as a clutch. The technique did not involve centering. The pot was thrown from a large piece of clay on the wheel, but that piece was made out of a pug. The large piece was coil thrown out of the pug. It was an amazing process, there is a little footage of this in Beyond Dankwian, the second hour of my movie on Thai Pottery.
Clay and fuel was brought to the island on boats. We were told that digging clay on the Island was not smart as the Island would sink. It is only a few feet above river level. The Island is small and there are no roads, although there are a few motorcylces that operate on the sidewalks.
The potteries were working hard with people throwing at each kiln site we visited, pots in all stages of production. Back then, the land was cheap, labor was cheap, clay was cheap, and fuel was not too expensive. They were burning palm fronds.
In 1994 I had the honor and good fortune to be invited to be the “Presenter” for a group of potters at the Festival of AMerican Folklife on The Mall in Washington DC.
In 1998 in Ceramics Monthly magazine an article said that the potteries were dying out. Between the visit of the author and the publication in Ceramics Monthly, His late Royal Highness King Bhumipol The Great visited the island and said that it was a beautiful place to visit. I do not have an exact quote. The next weekend the Island was over run with visitors. I visited a month after that and there was hardly room to walk. Not only were there almost no pots, there was no water for sale. You could buy colas and other drinks and knick knacks.
In around 2004 I visited the Island again. It was under stress. There was a lot of pressure for land to be sold for high rises. There has been pressure to build a bridge across the Chao Praya river using the Island. The locals like their quiet life without cars and so far they have been able to protect it.
Check CM for article on Failing pottery.
Check date for visit of HRH King Bhumipol The Great and try and get a direct quote.
Check date of my next visit. Try and find an article on the bridge plan.
Soda or Potash,,, salt does not burn.
offer of a job.