Thai Rooster bowls with Hakka roots

In January, photos of charming Chinese bowls with a distinctive colorful rooster pattern caught my eye in the Bangkok Post’s feature article. Little did I know, that these rooster bowls had Hakka roots.

The story was about Yupin Dhanabadeesakul, a woman who was following her Chinese immigrant father’s footsteps in their family ceramics business. Her father, Simyu Sae-chin migrated from Guangdong to Thailand during China’s civil war. He was a ceramic craftsman and when he discovered kaolin clay near Lampang, he opened a ceramic factory and crafted bowls hand painted with a colorful rooster, the same design he used in China. When I read about his Chinese roots, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was Hakka.

Yupin Dhanabadeesakul , owner with Hakka roots, still works in the family ceramics factory

Almost a year later, I found myself in Chiang Mai, not far from Lampang. I remembered the article about the rooster bowls and suggested we visit the Dhanabadee factory. There is a museum, factory outlet and workshop where you can paint ceramic objects with your own design. Our grand children painted elephants while their parents shopped. While their painted ceramic elephants were fired in the kiln, we went on a fascinating tour of the museum that highlights the family company’s history and the production of the ceramics.

I was surprised to see Yupin, the daughter of the founder featured in the article, humbly working on the production line, trimming clay bowls. After our tour we asked if we could take a photo with the owner. She gladly agreed. My husband asked her in Thai if she was Chinese Hakka ( จีนแคะ Jeen  Kae.) She answered yes, but her father wanted to make it easier for his children to assimilate in his new country so he gave his children a Thai name. Even with her Thai name, Yupin epitomizes the spirit and tenacity of the hard-working Hakka woman.

Dhanabadee Ceramic Museum Address 543 M.1, T.GLOUYPAE, A.MUANG, LAMPANG 52000 THAILAND Tel. (+66) 05435 4011-2

5 thoughts on “Thai Rooster bowls with Hakka roots

  1. Hi, Linda. I saw a documentary on Chinese Tv this par summer on this very subject. I was intrigued because my family had brought some of these bowls from Jamaica and I had never seen them in the Chinese stores! The program mentioned the rooster factory’s founder came from China. Region was something like Chau-something. The show was partly in English and I was busy so could only half follow it. There was also mention of another rooster factory outside of China. But the focus was the Thai one which brought prosperity to this region. Probably we saw same show. Hakka. Figures. Thx.

    • Simone, The factory is in Lampang, Thailand, not far from Chiangmai. Very interesting and the owner stills works there. There is a museum which shows the family history. He did come from China, from Guangdong province.

  2. I am from Mauritius and my grandparents are Chinese Hakka from Meixian. We use these bowls for cooking “moychoy niouk” or for steaming fish with fermented black beans, ginger and onions.

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