antique thai bowl

Handmade hammered brass bowl from Thailand.

Drinking bowls are a symbol of Thai hospitality. Until just a few decades ago it was still very common to find these in front of houses along the roads and paths of rural Thailand. The cups would sit atop an urn of water, welcome to all passersby and strangers for a complimentary drink to refresh themselves in the hot Thai climate.

I would guess they may still be found in villages of some areas, though I have never come across them myself. It’s odd how traditions like this can fade over the course of a generation.

Called a ‘kan nam’, they might be made of aluminium or brass. While the drinking bowl would be found on the road, another ‘kan nam’ could be found immediately outside the door of the house to wash your feet before entering. (Of course, you would never wear your shoes or sandals inside a house.)

The hammered brass bowl here features intricate designs and was most likely a communal drinking bowl within the dining area of a home. Individual glasses now reign supreme, but previously families and guests would share the communal cup, which you would dip into the urn when you wanted a drink. Traditionally, Thai children are taught to drink their beverage at the end of a meal … you wouldn’t want to fill up on liquid and not eat your food. While there is a huge amount of leeway in this practice now, it’s not at all uncommon for Thais to wait until they’re done eating to drink.

More images of the antique Thai drinking bowl below:


antique thai drinking bowl


antique thai metal bowl


antique thai cup