Ewer with spout in the form of an elephant

  • Stoneware with white and iron glazes
  • 7.3 x 7.4 x 9.3 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Provenance: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Gift of Dean Frasché
  • F1989.55


Small ewer with elephant-headed spout, upright neck with everted rim, and carved foot
CLAY: gray with black speckles
GLAZE: opaque white glaze on neck and sculpted details of elephant features; mottled medium-brown glaze on body and elephant head; interior and base unglazed
DECORATION: relief modeled details of elephant head and tail, with cord binding "body" at midpoint
MARK: none

Curatorial Remarks

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

2. (L.A. Cort, 24 March 1997)  Two larger (heights 16.0 cm and 17.7 cm) two-color (brown with white accents and white with brown details) bottles in the Osothsapha collection, Bangkok, are published in Natthaphat and Somsak 1987, a catalogue of that collection (nos. 20 and 21).  The elephants' trunks are raised and extended, and mahouts cling to their backs.  The catalogue dates the bottles to the sixteenth century.

Natthaphat Čhanthawit, and Somsak Thammāprīchākōn. 1987. Khrư̄ang thūai nai ʻĒchīa ʻĀkhanē : rawāng Phutthasatawat thī 15–22 (The Ceramics of South-East Asia from the 10th to 16th Centuries A.D.): Bō̜risat ʻŌsotsaphā (Tekhēngyū) Čhamkat [Osothsapha (Teck Heng Yoo) Co. Ltd].

3. (Louise Cort, 23 September 1997) "Ayutthaya" added to period.

4. (Louise Cort, 11 January 2005) An elephant-shaped vessel of related shape (with modeled legs of the kneeling elephant in place of the wheel-thrown base; perhaps the entire piece was formed by hand, and no spout is visible, but a mahout, now partially broken off, appears to have been sitting on the back), in the collection of the National Museum in Jakarta (no. 3574), was found in central Sulawesi (Spinks 1959, fig. 21).

Spinks, Charles Nelson. 1959. Siamese pottery in Indonesia. Bangkok: Siam Society.

5. (Louise Cort, 20 May 2008) Based on her research on shipwrecks, Roxanna Brown dates the introduction of the combination of opaque white glaze and iron-brown glaze to circa 1500–1520. It continues through the end of production at Sawankhalok, which she posits as 1584 (Brown 2004). An iron-decorated bottle 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 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.

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

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