Divers in Ayutthaya, by Bob Retka
DIVERS IN AYUTTHAYA
BY BOB RETKA
Bob Retka is a retired Foreign Service officer. He became interested in ceramics while posted to Bangkok in 1980–83. There he had the opportunity to meet the salvage divers who were recovering old ceramics from the Chao Phya River and to visit many historic Thai kiln sites.
In Central Thailand, boaters and divers are engaged in excavating pots from the Chao Phraya and Paa Sak river beds. Those involved in the practice use equipment and methods that are a mixture of local, resourceful, antiquated, and challenging to the senses. There is great competition for space on the river, and finds range from sherds to whole vessels, earthenwares to glazed stonewares, and locally produced vessels to Chinese and Japanese imported wares. Diving in Ayutthaya provides a link between the past and the present in the continuum of the search for history and treasure in world culture.
This article first appeared in Sawaddi, November–December 1982, pp. 8–13. Reproduced with permission.