Incense containers were originally used in Buddhist temples, but as of the 16th century they became an indispensable part of the tea ceremony. Iron painted, white glaze pottery wares such as this were made in Sawankhalok (Sunkoroku in Japanese) in central Thailand. According to archeological records, these would have been used to contain lime or betel nut. Most have been unearthed in Sulawesi, Indonesia, and it is thought that they would have been trade wares for export to surrounding countries. This piece would have been much prized by the Japanese compared to other similar examples found in Japan (see inset), and would have been regarded as a classic Sawankhalok ware incense container.