Bang Kong, Rolous
The provinces of Buriram and Surin are located approximately 370 kilometres northeast of Bangkok and bordering Cambodia on the Khorat Plateau. There, evidence has been found of more than 200 kilns that produced both unglazed and glazed stonewares. These kilns were scattered over the southern part of both provinces, suggesting that they were not major centres of production like those located in Sukhothai or Sawankhalok in north central Thailand [Brown 1988: 44-45].
Although these sites are now in Thai territory, the ancient kilns produced Khmer-style pottery, which the French archaeologist Bernard P. Groslier called ‘provincial’, which some interpret as meaning “artistically inferior to those of the Angkor region” [Miksic 2009: 57]. They are located along the old Angkorian highways that led to Phimai, where a major Khmer temple is known, the foundations dating to the 11th century.
PRASAT BAN PHLUANG
Another location is at Prasat Ban Phluang, in Surin province, where an 11th-century Khmer temple stands and over 4,000 sherds have been found. Brown noted, “reassembled, the sherds represented 270 recognisable vessels and perhaps another 126 primarily earthenware shapes that could not be reconstructed. Since no internal evidence for dating was excavated, these wares could only be dated by their association with the prasat [temple] itself, which was perhaps actively used for a hundred years after its construction about the mid-11th century” [Brown 1988: 47].
BAN BARANAE, BAN SAWAI, AND PRAKON CHAI
The kilns of Buriram and Surin include the following: Ban Thanon Noi in Ban Kruat district, Ban Baranae, Ban Sawai, and Prakon Chai. These will be considered as a group here as there is currently not enough information on individual areas; the Thai-Cambodian border being an area of unrest, few excavations since the 1970s have been permitted. Miksic elaborates:
“The kilns in Buriram and Surin seem to have specialised in brown glazed ware, and were mainly active during the 11th and early 12th centuries, up to the construction of Angkor Wat. During this phase of Khmer civilisation, the area of northeast Thailand now known as the Khorat Plateau was the scene of important architectural developments such as the temple of Phimai which served as the model for Angkor Wat. The dynasty of Mahidharapura which built Angkor Wat came not from the Angkor region, but from the Khorat Plateau” [Miksic 2009:57].
BAN THANON NOI
Ban Thanon Noi, had three kilns, which were excavated before they were destroyed in February 1985. Several layers of cross-draft kilns; two parallel chambers, each 26 x 5 or 6 metres, with a communal chimney. They produced light green bowls and covers with fine white clay, some of which had brown glaze applied over the green glaze on the feet of the bowls in a second stage. This is the only place in Buriram where such a technique was practiced.
Covered boxes and bowls with ornate lids were also made here. Some of these had green-glazed exteriors, with brown-glazed interiors. Some white glazed ceramics were also produced. A second type of clay body, grey in colour, was used for brown-glazed bowls, boxes, oil lamps and jars…. This site has been considered by some Thai archaeologists as producing the best ceramics of the Buriram kilns, including bichromatic wares. Wasters show that both green and brown wares were fired simultaneously in the same kilns.
“Though the Buriram kilns are known for their brown glazed wares, they also produced green-glazed pottery. At Ban Baranae, for example, these included common bowls with thin green glazeand flat bases, jars with incised chevron patterns on the shoulders and olive green glaze and unusual items such as rectangular cowbells, inscribed with Khmer characters” [Miksic 2009:57].
Finally, at Prakon Chai district, roof finials and decorated roof tile ends like those produced near Angkor and near Phnom Kulen have been found, but although their form is very similar the examples are unglazed.
These Khmer kilns found in Northeast Thailand produced many wares similar to those of the Angkorian period. However, certain forms were rare or absent in the Cambodian kilns, such as animal figurines, consisting of owls, “birds, elephants, boars, fish, rabbits and anteaters” [Miksic 2009: 57].