Khaung Daing Community, Main Centre Of Pottery

This small village located at the western shore of the Inlay Lake, Its inhabitants, Burma, and Shan State – scarcely hundred Shan families that reside in beautiful, standard Shan huts and houses comprising wood and bamboo frames, matting, bamboo and wood floors along with thatch roofs – are famous for the production of good quality pottery/earthenware, which at this point as everywhere in the country is both an industry and an art. After having visited this main pottery centre of the Shan State, observed the potters at work and bathed in this particular village’s atmosphere you will definitely consider pottery through various eyes.

A noteworthy point is the fact that the ancestors of Khaung Daing’s potters would undoubtedly not recognise that many decades, centuries even millennia have passed since they passed away and would most likely be able to straightaway join into the process of creating pottery at any point in time and any of its development from the very beginning to the truly end as nothing has changed in the conventional methods since they themselves once did this work.

The basic materials used, their sources, the methods of their preparation, the resources, the strategies of developing the pottery and its burning, the designs, the dimensions, the many kinds of pottery, the kinds of kilns utilized, etc., everything – definitely everything – has remained the same. With respect to pottery, time has certainly stood still and will most likely continue to do so. Pottery is normally a family business as well as the knowledge and skills needed to perform this particular craft are handed down from generation to age group; and today’s potters’ descendents are not likely to change anything. But that is the future and we’ll now concern ourselves with the present and Khaung Daing’s present-day pottery workshops.

Today as ever pottery or earthenware plays a main part in Burma’s households as pottery is placed to innumerable uses: plates, bowls, cups, beakers, vases, pots of any size to cook, keep and serve beverages and food, to make rice wine, to plant flowers and plants and flowers into them, as depository for money, jewellery, orange, etc. (still usual in outlying areas), burial urns, children toys, figurines, statues, and so forth so forth; just pottery. Subsequently, all these different types of pottery articles are made in Khaung Daing Village.

The primary supply used is potting clay. Either damped and kneaded clay powder (terracotta) or even previously soaked in water for an extended time and then after the drinking water is poured away stamped until pliable and smooth. Occasionally, these 2 different kinds of clay are blended. The clay is made of silt and earth from the lake. The method used to build small pottery including tableware is the’ wheel throwing’ approach. Let us now enjoy a potter making use of this method at work.

To make e.g. a bowl on the potter’s controls (set in a shallow mould and switched either by hand or foot by the potter himself or perhaps an assistant) a lump of clay is placed in the centre which will be yanked as well as pushed by the potter into a cylindrical shape. Pot Gerabah presses his thumb onto the top of the cylinder, creating a hole that he expands while pulling up the sides. Afterwards he begins to develop the lip using a single hand on either side of the edge of the article. After completion the potter operates a thin wire under the bottom or perhaps foot of the piece and removes it from the controls. The earthenware is manufactured in one uninterrupted and smooth process from one lump of clay.

For huge jars and pots the’ coiling technique’ is used. Big jars – such as for example all those called’ hundred-container’ as they have a holding electrical capacity of hundred’ Viss’ (157 kilogram) – are 4 feet/1.2 metres high, get an opening of eighteen inches/43 centimetres, a bulbous body and a narrow bottom. Storage pots have a holding electrical capacity of up to sixty gallons.

The process to create and form such an enormous pottery article consists of four stages, the very first of which is usually that the bottom or base of the jar is created & semi-dried. In the second level of manufacture the potter forms from a lengthy string of clay the wall of the lower half of the jar. The string is created into a loop or even ring and the jar is built up by superimposing the rings, which are scraped smooth at the outside as the post builds up,’ glued’ to the bottom by wetting the sides and placed to dry. The last stage is to form the top half with the lip the exact same way whereby the lower part was made. Depending on the use the jar is intended for, more elements such as loops at the opening/mouth are added. The fourth level consists of putting the’ half-jars’ collectively and letting the entire thing dry in the sun.


After being dried up pottery articles are fired (also called baked or burned). This’s often done in kilns but when lower burning temps and shorter burning periods suffice – as is also the circumstances with everyday terracotta pots – it is performed by what’s called’ open fire’. The potters merely cover the sun-dried earthenware that’s piled in stacks on the ground with a thick layer of straw, and that is then set on fire. This kind of flame gets to a temperature of aproximatelly 1.202 to 1.382 degrees F (650 to 750 degrees C).

For glazed pottery a paste is made of powdered cinder or even lava from the Shan mountains, a small portion of clay and’ thamin-yay’ (elmer rice drinking water which is poured out of the pot when the rice is ready cooked as well as functions as the glue or perhaps binding agent) and slapped on the dried pottery in advance of the burning process. The baking of glazed earthenware that’s sometimes called’ middle fire ware’ desires high temperatures of 1.650 to 2.192 amounts F/900 to 1.200 degrees C.

Various other ways of decorating pottery are painting or even the stamping and/or incising of designs. Pottery can be painted before and after the burning.

As for kilns there are essentially 2 various kinds: those designed above ground and those designed under ground. Both of these’re so-called’ intermittent kilns’ as they need being extinguished before being unloaded and recharged. On the other hand,’ continuous kilns’ may be filled and charged up again while the fire is burning up. In Khaung Daing the underground style is utilized. An underground kiln is a pit with actions to make their way in to and then leave it on one side and a screened smoke hole on the other side. The above ground kilns are manufactured of bricks with an entry on one side and also screened smoke holes. After the pottery is thoroughly stacked in the kiln and also the spaces between the more substantial articles are filled with smaller pottery like kids toys (play planting containers, figurines, etc.) the kiln is full of logs, which is set alight ahead of the entrance is adequately closed with bricks, clay and earth/soil. After several days of baking – the lengths of the time is picked out in accordance with the size and number of parts of pottery – the kiln is made it possible for to gradually cool down for a number of times before it’s opened to unload the pottery.

To watch all the stages of the complete pottery-making process performed in traditions which are old by the Shan individuals of Kyaung Daing not merely is an educating but also a very interesting event that causes you to come up with a feel for earthenware and as mentioned previously you will from today on look at e.g. the plate you are eating from, the glass you’re drinking out and the bowls in which your food is served with various eyes.

I am now leaving this beautiful village to return to Nyaung Shwe, when I have started the tour of mine. I will spend the remainder of the day and also the night in Nyaung Shwe. Tomorrow morning I will continue my journey on acreage to Pindaya. I hope you have enjoyed the trip to Kyaung Daing. I did and expectation we are going to see again.

I’m German by birth but am living after 25 years in Burma/Myanmar and also understand the country, its people, its culture and its history perfectly. This makes me an authority on Burma. After retiring in 2012 I turned writer and am writing books on Burma the land I’m privileged to call home. Please do also see my Professional Photos and the profile of mine.

About the author

peter

View all posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *