Jar with four horizontal lugs

  • Stoneware with iron glaze; rattan handles and lid added
  • 56.3 x 40 x 40 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 14th-15th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, Thailand
  • Provenance: Tawit barrio, Pudtol municipality, Kalinga-Apayao province, Philippines
  • Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • F1989.68


Large storage jar with small trumpet shaped mouth and rolled rim, ridge at base of neck, four lugs high on shoulder, narrow body, and broad flat base, rattan handles and lid.
Body: reddish-brown stoneware.
Glaze: iron glaze, lustrous black on "hot" side of jar, running down in muliple drips to edge of base; on "cool" side of jar, ochre mottled with black on shoulder and upper body, ochre on lower body; on that side are visible, below flowing lower edge of glaze, horizontal brushmarks where undercoat of glaze was brushed on, ranging from thin brown to thicker ochre. nterior and base unglazed.
Decoration: none.
Accessories: cylindrical coiled rattan lid with flat top, loop in center attached to five-link chain of plaited bamboo loops; other end of chain attached to rattan bail handle attached to adjacent lugs by plaited bamboo loops; indentical bail handle attached to other two lugs. Lid made in the Philippines.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 1989) This jar was located by John Forbes at a dealer in the hill resort of Baguio, Luzon Island, the Philippines, in June 1988. Mr. Forbes alerted me to the jar's availability and facilitated our purchase of the jar, including clearance by the National Museum in Manila.  Mr. Forbes supplied the following notes from an interview with the Baguio dealer:

"Provenance: The jar comes from Tawit barrio, Pudtol municipality, Kalinga-Apayao province.  Its owner was a man of local substance. The inhabitants of Tawit are rice farmers and hunters (wild pig and wild chicken). Tawit is remote.  It can be reached only by walking and has no electricity.  Dealers identify these jars as "Siamese" and believe they were brought several centuries ago to ports in the Spanish-dominated lowland provinces of Northern Luzon and then purchased and carried into the interior mountain villages of the Cordillera. Laoag and Aparri would have been the nearest port towns. The "Siamese" jars are less common than the more numerous Chinese jars.

Name: The jar is called "dol-doli" in the Kalinga dialect meaning "brown or black jar."  In Ilocano, the dialect of the Christianised lowlanders, it is called "barnay."

Uses:  The most common use of the jar is to hold wine.  Large jars are normally used to store "basi," a wine made from sugar cane.  Smaller jars are usually used to store "tabey," a wine made from rice.  During ceremonies, the jars are brought out from the home.  Guests are served wine from the jars.  When not in use for ceremonies, they are kept under the houses, partially buried in the ground to protect them from tumbling during earthquakes or dog fights and often tied to a housepost.

A second use is as a dowry item.  Jars are given as a gift to the father of the bride.  They are also valued heirloom pieces and are handed down generation to generation.  Other items of inheritance or dowry are rice fields, homes, jewelry, including beads and gold earrings.  If the owner of a jar dies without children or close relatives, his jars may be buried with him. 

Value: Jars are among the most valuable of property in tribal villages of the Cordillera.  A large jar can be worth a rice field or two or three carabao.

Superstitions:  Owners fear that if they sell their jars they will go crazy or become ill.  They reason that if they get sick they will have to spend money to pay for a cure by a spirit healer or to sacrifice pigs to get well.  If they sell to another village, the custom is to remove one ear.  A piece with all ears intact indicates that one family has owned the piece for several centuries or that the owner has been Christianized and no longer follows the old custom. 

Reasons for sale: In recent years, there have been several reasons why owners have sold their jars:  
1) Their children go to college, and the jar is sold to pay for tuition.  Sometimes the student persuades the parent that their college education is the best inheritance the parent can provide, which justifies the sale of such a precious family heirloom.  Sometimes college graduates buy jars from antique shops to give to their parents for rice wine storage and to restore the heirloom tradition.
2) Increased fighting between government forces and the communist rebels has worsened the economic conditions and forced some jar owners to sell out of economic necessity. Kalinga-Apayao is a province where the communist rebels are very strong and where the Philippine military sometimes organizes multi-battalion military operations.  Some villagers are displaced and cannot work in their rice fields. 
3) Christianization can also pressure a jar owner to part with his heirloom possession.  Some missionaries argue that jars promote wine drinking, drunkenness, quarreling, and fighting.  If there are less jars, there will be less trouble, according to this reasoning.

These jars have stayed in the mountain villages for centuries.  Even during the Japanese occupation, when times were very tough, they were not sold.  Selling jars began in the early 1960s when educational opportunities opened up and parents were persuaded to sell to pay for tuition. Deteriorating peace and order conditions are missionary persuasion have come later."

According to Victor Hauge, jars similar to this one are in the collection of the National Museum in Bangkok (supporting a Thai attribution).  Moreover, he saw similar jars in the Okinawa Prefectural Museum, indicating that the jars were involved in the Ryukyu trade with Siam, which was strong in the 15th and 16th centuries. "These relics of early trading days are said to have contained Siamese wine; it is conjectured, moreover, that to this import can be traced the origin of Okinawan awamori (Hauge 1975, 245).  Jars of similar shape were produced locally at the Kina kilns (ibid., no. 105, dated 17th century).  Mr. Hauge also saw Thai black-glazed jars in collections in the Kanazawa area of Japan.

Jars of similar shape were among the pieces excavated from the shipwreck at Koh Khram in the Gulf of Thailand, which Roxanna Brown dated to between 1350 and 1471 (Brown 1975, 369; Brown 1988, 74, fig. 54).

Hauge, Victor. 1978. Folk Traditions in Japanese Art. Tokyo and New York: Kodansha International, the International Exhibitions Foundation and The Japan Foundation.

Brown, Roxanna M. 1975. "Preliminary Report of the Koh Khram Sunken Ship." Oriental Art XXI(4): 356–370.

Brown, Roxanna M. 1988. The Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification. 2nd ed. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

2. (L.A. Cort, April 1991) Query from Bob Retka, 28 August 1990: What is the green pigment on the sides of the jar?

3. (L.A. Cort, April 1991) According to John Guy, Victoria and Albert Museum, 13 September 1990, this is probably a Sawankhalok product.

4. (L.A. Cort, 13 June 1995) "Sukhothai province, Si Satchanalai" added to attribution.

5. (Louise Cort, 25 April 2000).  According to Miyata Etsuko, who saw this jar in November, 1997, many jars of this type have been recovered in Okinawa from sites of fortified compounds (gusuku) on the various islands, and also from sites in Kyushu.

6. (Louise Cort, 28 January 2008) Changed Ware name from Si Satchanalai to Sawankhalok, to agree with usage by scholars including Don Hein.

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