Bowl (kiln waster)

  • Stoneware with celadon glaze
  • 570 x 10.1 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Gift of Charles Lang Freer
  • F1916.692


Bole: kiln waster, small ovoidal, flattened in the making; attachments of kiln slag.
Clay: dense, gray.
Glaze: brilliant, transparent celadon, crackled; a pool of deep green inside.
Decoration: channeled and incised in the paste.

Curatorial Remarks

1. Original attribution: Siamese. "This specimen was made at S_____ on the upper waters of the Mekong river by a potter attached to a party of Chinamen who went to this spot in the 7th century and made glazed pottery for use in Siam and Turkestan." See Res. 6526, Reserved Pottery List.

2. (H.C. Lovell, 1975) Added Sawankhalok celadon, 14th–15th century.

3. (J. Knapp, 1978) The category of Siamese pottery will be changed to Thai.

4. (L.A. Cort, 7 February 1997) Replaced "making" with "firing."

5. (Louise A. Cort, 11 July 1998) When Charles Freer acquired this cup (an obvious waster recovered from the Ban Koh Noi kiln site in Si Satchanalai), very little was known about this ware. Thus Freer's notes on what he was told of the origins of this ware are of particular interest. One of the first articles in English on the subject, "Notes on the Ancient Pottery Kilns at Sawankalok, Siam," had been published in Lyle, 1903. Lyle related the well-known lore that the Si Satchanalai kilns were established by five hundred Chinese potters brought back to his capital by "King of Sawankalok" Phra Ruang after he traveled to China and married the daughter of the "King of China" (238).

Lyle, T. H. 1903. "Notes on the Ancient Pottery Kilns at Sawankalok, Siam." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute(32): 238–245.

6. (Louise Cort, 14 April 2008) According to the dating system for Sawankhalok ceramics developed by Roxanna Brown on the basis of her study of excavated shipwreck material (2004), this bowl dates to the sixteenth century.

Changed Date from 14th–15th century to 16th century.

Brown, Roxanna Maude. 2004. "The Ming Gap and Shipwreck Ceramics in Southeast Asia." Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles.

7. (Louise Cort, 2 June 2008) According to Don Hein, in Washington to deliver the Pope Memorial Lecture, this bowl is definitely Sawankhalok ware from the LASW (Late Associated Stoneware) period. Hein dates this period broadly to the 15th–16th century. It must have been damaged when it tipped off its firing support.

8. (Louise Cort, 28 Mar 2012) I noticed that the TMS record contains no information on the source of this Thai pot. Beth Duley checked the folder sheet, but it has nothing either. David Hogge checked the Reserved Pottery List, with no more success. He suggested that the source might have been the Bahr brothers, who supplied numerous Chinese archaeological materials to Freer in 1916. Yamanaka supplied a large group of Korean archaeological materials in the same year. F1916.696a-i (a group of Chinese ceramic sherds) and F1916.701 (a Chinese porcelain rabbit) were also added from the Reserved Pottery List without identified source.

At a guess I would say Yamanaka might have been the more likely source in 1916 for a ceramic waster from Thailand, as Japanese were traveling to Thailand for private and government business. Following the Declaration of Amity and Commerce between Japan and Siam in 1887, numerous Japanese experts were dispatched to Thailand to help modernize the country, in areas such as law, education, and sericulture.

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