Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia:
Collections in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

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Kendi

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 6 x 5.1 x 6.2 cm
  • Sawankhalok or Maenam Noi ware
  • 15th-16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Sawankhalok kilns or Maenam Noi kilns, Sukhothai or Singburi province, Central Thailand
  • Provenance: Ayutthaya, Ayutthaya province, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Dean Frasché
  • F1989.34

Description

Miniature kendi with tall neck, projecting flange below mouth, flattened body, large spout, and tall straight foot with inset base.
Clay: black, well fused.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: none.
Mark: none.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (L.A. Cort, 1989) Collected by the donor at Ayutthaya, Thailand, in 1959. The donor feels it was made right in Ayutthaya. Another black kendi of the type, about 12 inches high, is now in the Jim Thompson collection. Another miniature kendi found at Ayutthaya is published in Shaw 1987, 47 (lower left). It is shown with miniature forms of other types of jars and mortars and Shaw suggests that such miniatures may have been used as offerings to the spirits, since such pieces can be seen today in the spirit houses (ibid., 48).

Shaw, John C. 1987. Introducing Thai Ceramics; also Burmese and Khmer. Chiang Mai: Duangphorn Kemasingki.

2. (Virginia DiCrocco, Siam Society, Bangkok, 11 September 1991) Possible gray pottery from Si Satchanalai.

3. (L.A. Cort, 13 June 1995) "Ware: Ayutthaya" and "Region: Ayutthaya province, Ayutthaya" added to attribution.

4. (L.A. Cort, 24 March 1997) The capital city of Ayutthaya, where this kendi was acquired, was a conduit for ceramics made not only in Si Satchanalai (see Comment 3) but also in the Tao Maenam Noi kilns in Singburi province. Unglazed gray stoneware kendi (and other ceramic forms) were made at these kilns (Sāyan 1988, 19; Chārưk 1900, 64, figs. 1–3, cover).

Sāyan Phraichānčhit (Sayan Phraichanchit). 1988. Rāi ngān kānsamrūat lae khutkhon Tao Mǣnam Nǭi: Tambon Chœng Klat, Amphœ Bang Račhan, Čhangwat Singburī (Report on the survey and excavation of the Maenam Noi kilns, Bang Rachan town, Sing Buri province). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Chārưk Wilaikǣo (Charuk Wilaykaen). 1990. Tao Mǣnam Nǭi 2 [Maenam Noi Kilns, part 2]. Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

7. (Louise Cort, 22 June 2005) Changed Ware from Ayutthaya to Si Satchanalai or Maenam Noi ware. Changed Ayutthaya from Origin to Provenance; added to Origin Sukhothai or Singburi province, Si Satchanalai or Maenam Noi kilns.

8. (Louise Cort, 18 January 2007) All the northern Vietnamese kendis from Chu Dau recovered from the Hoi An shipwreck and dated to late 15th century had this type of elongated, tapered mammiform spout, and the necks were topped by flat disks and low raised lips—and also fitted with small caps (Butterfield 2000, lots 48–64). A date in the 15th-16th century is probably more appropriate than 16th-17th century.

Changed Date from 16th–17th century to 15th–16th century.

Butterfields. 2000. Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard. 2 vols. San Francisco and Los Angeles: Butterfields.

7. (Louise Cort, 9 January 2008) According to information collected by Leedom Lefferts on 31 January 2007 at the National Museum in Ayutthaya, the Thai term for kendi is khon thoo.

According to Australian anthropologist Carol Warren, the Balinese word for this vessel shape is caratan (pronounced "charatan").

8. (Louise Cort, 8 March 2008) "Perhaps the earthenware item most characteristic of medieval Buddhist sites in Myanmar is the sprinkler pot, or kendi….These are found across South and Southeast Asia, generally attributed to the first and early second millennia A.D., from Pakistan to Laos and down the Malay peninsula to Java, though it is only in the Buddhist countries that their function appears to focus on ritual libration. Buddhist cosmology and practice are bound up with the ritual pouring of water, reflecting the story of how Buddha, at the moment of his enlightenment, was able to call on the water he had poured in previous lives to witness his good deeds to come back and wash away the forces of evil" (Hudson et al 2001, 58 [references omitted]).

Hudson, Bob, Nyein Lwin, and Win Maung (Tanpawady). 2001. "The Origins of Bagan: New Dates and Old Inhabitants." Asian Perspectives 40(1): 48–74.

9. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, commented that he has never seen a miniature kendi like this one, although the blackish fabric reminded him of the sherds found at the Nong O kilns, north of Ban Koh Noi and possibly representing a later introduction of technology.


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