Reviving the Dragon Earthen Water Jars
In earlier days when there was no plastic or probably metal too, they didn’t have any means to store water, especially rain water. So they made large jars from clay. Since Dragon played an important role in their lives, they made the trademark dragon figures on the jars. Hence the name Dragon Earthen Water Jars.
Ratchaburi in Thailand was the hub for these ceramic wares. For years, they used these water jars and slowly due to the Thai people’s changing lifestyle, the jars started to diminish. Ratchaburi’s ceramics ware market was also affected by world economic crisis. The demand in ceramics ware decreased by 30-40%.
At present most of the jar makers, including small-scale ones, are wiped out by this wave of lifestyle changes. The surviving handful ones are based in Ratchaburi.
Despite the world’s migration to plastic, Thai people are trying to revive and still believe in Living the Thai culture. These days the earthen water jar has become one of the favoured in today’s lifestyle of Thai people including younger generation. There are two main reasons for the increased demand. One, the drought situation in some parts of the country. Two, people have started paying attention to nature and environment. Keeping indoor plants has also resulted in an increase in ceramics products.
As I mentioned, Ratchaburi is well known for manufacturing of jars, plant pots, and ceramic wares for home and garden decoration. Earthen process is inherited from generation to generation. There are only 4-5 major water jar manufacturers in Ratchaburi province but for ceramic wares for home and garden decoration, there are many factories.
Most products are made from good quality local clay, red-black clay, and the trademark dragon still figures on the jar. Some manufacturers produce these wares with mixing the clay from other provinces to create a variety in products and their texture & designs.
Jar making is a tedious process if only the local clay is used. Forming of water jars in required shapes is a manual process and then it goes for burning in the brick stove called Dragon stove that uses eucalyptus and rubber woods as fuel. Stove temperature is controlled by the experienced professionals. On the other hand, if the raw materials are mixed clay, machinery is used in production methods, forming shape, molding, and burning in shuttle or tunnel stove that uses LPG gas as a fuel.
Dragon jars and plant pots are made for both domestic and international market. The manufacturers don’t export their products by themselves, but through agents. The countries where most of the export happens are Cambodia, Laos, EU, USA, South Korea, Australia and Japan. Some factories are able to export around 80% of their manufactured good. For domestic market, the merchants buy these ceramic wares directly from the factory and sell them all around the country.
The owner of the factory, third generation in the business, being interviewed by a TV channel.
When I visited the factory, I saw many westerners interested in buying.
Would you buy one of those Dragon water jars? 😀
Note:- This post is written under Living the Thai culture series. You can read more posts of the series by clicking the following links. There is more to come.
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