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

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Ewer in form of a goose with spout

  • Stoneware with celadon glaze; metal repair
  • 9 x 7.2 x 10.9 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • late 15th-mid 16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Provenance: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Gift of Dean Frasché
  • F1989.54


Small ewer in shape of a goose (hamsa) with tail-shaped handle, bird-head spout, elongated neck with wide rim, carved foot
CLAY: reddish brown
GLAZE: green glaze with granular white occlusions, shinier on one side of bird than the other, probably underfired; glaze collecting in thick drops at foot; interior and base unglazed
DECORATION: incised detailing on head, wings, and tail; eyes added as relief modeling
MARK: none
CONDITION: broken beak/spout repaired with silvery metal

Published References

1. Spinks, Charles N. 1971. The Ceramic Wares of Siam. Bangkok: The Siam Society, 29[described as a "Svargaloka celadon kendi"].

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 8 June 1995) Subject changed from "Ewer in the shape of a phoenix" to "Ewer in the shape of a goose." The bird is not a phoenix (my mistake, based on Chinese models) but a goose (Sanskirt: hamsa; Thai: han). The goose is found often in Thai ceramics as a vessel form, like this ewer (e.g. Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, ed. 1993, nos. 20 and 74, Sawankhalok ware kendis with iron decoration [although they are mistakenly identified as chickens]). The goose also appears as a painted motif on Thai ceramics (e.g. Guy 1989, no. 16, Kalong ware bottle with goose painted in iron pigment).

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, ed. 1993. Thai Ceramics: The James and Elaine Connell Collection. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.

Guy, John. 1989. Ceramic Traditions of South–East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

2. (L.A. Cort, 1 August 1995) "Sukhothai province, Si Satchanalai" added to attribution and date changed from 13th–15th century to 15th–16th century.

3. (Louise Cort, 20 May 2008) Based on her research on shipwrecks, Roxanna Brown terms pale gray-green celadon glaze of this type as "post-classic" and dates its use to circa 1488–1540 (Brown 2004). An iron-decorated Sawankhalok vessel with elephant head spout was recovered from the Singtai shipwreck, which Brown dates circa 1512–1540 (ibid., pl. 68-1).

Changed Date from 15th–16th century to Late 15th–Mid 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.

4. (Louise Cort, 2 June 2008) According to Don Hein, in Washington to deliver the Pope Memorial Lecture, this ewer is Sawankhalok ware from the LASW phase (Late Stoneware, fifteenth-sixteenth century).

5. (Najiba Choudhury, 10/28/2014) Transferred from the Provenance text field: "Collected by the donor at Sawankhalok, Thailand, in 1957."

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