• Unglazed stoneware
  • 71.1 x 62.2 x 62.2 cm
  • Ban Bang Pun ware
  • 14th-mid 15th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Ban Bang Pun kilns, Suphanburi province, Thailand
  • Gift of Mrs. Maureen R. Jacoby in memory of Rolf Jacoby
  • F1992.26


Storage jar.
Clay: gray (reduction-fired) stoneware, stained irregularly.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: on the shoulder, four small knobs (damaged) spaced equidistantly below the edge of the rim; two wide bands of stamped decoration, repeating the same leaf-shaped design (sema or bodhi leaf, positioned with point downward; two narrow bands of "jabbed" pattern made with a comb-like tool held on the diagonal, one immediately next to the neck, the other below the lower wide band of stamped decor; string lines in clusters of two or more separating the panels and defining the lower edge of shoulder decoration.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 24 June 1992) The Suphanburi kilns (so-called because of their location in Suphanburi province, west of Bangkok; also known as the Ban Bang Pun kilns from the name of the village where the site is located) were identified and excavated only in the mid-1980s.  The kilns produced only unglazed gray stonewares, both large round jars like this one and smaller jars with pedestal feet. The trumpet-shaped mouths have everted rims, and the shoulders bear small pointed pseudo-lugs.  They are the handsomest of all Thai ceramic wares, yet they are scarcely represented in American collections.

While unglazed gray stonewares were also made at the well-known Sawankhalok (Si Satchanalai) kilns and the recently-identified Phitsanulok and Singburi kilns, the Suphanburi products are distinguished from the others by their use of stamped motifs around the shoulder and belly of the vessel.  The most elaborate pieces bear rectangular stamped impressions of elephants with riders, warriors on horseback, or farmers plowing with oxen.  The more common motif is the pointed sema (bodhi) leaf arrayed in rows with the points downward.  The stamped motifs connect the Suphanburi wares to earlier stamped earthenwares made in the city of U-Thong in Suphanburi province during the 7-8th centuries and well represented in the collection of the Lopburi National Museum.  U-Thong may have been a center for luxury decorated earthenwares that were distributed to other important polities in central and southern Thailand.  The Suphanburi stonewares appear to continue this distinctive local style of decoration.

Located on the banks of the Suphanburi River, the Suphanburi kilns distributed their products by boat to major ports on the Mae Klong River and to Ayutthaya on the Chao Phraya River.  They were transported along international trade routes either as storage jars for water or food supplies (most likely in the case of the large jars like this one) and as trade items.  In addition to being excavated from both riverbeds, Suphanburi pieces have been found on shipwrecks in the Gulf of Siam (see note 2, below) in sites and indigenous collections in Indonesia and the Philippines, and in North Korea and Japan (excavated on the coast of Ishikawa Prefecture).  The pieces taken from shipwrecks in the gulf were dated by TL to the 13th century.  [The following were added: Period—"Ayutthaya"; Region—"Suphanburi province".]

2. (Louise Cort, 24 June 1992) Regarding Sāyan et al., eds. 1990, 41–42, nos. 96–101:

It appears that dates were assigned to these vessels on the basis of dating done to organic materials from the wreck. No. 96, from the Si Chang II shipwreck, with bodhi leaf motifs, height 66.4 cm., was dated to A. D. 1290+/- 60 (13th century A.D.). Another jar of this type (no. 97) was found on the Rang Kwian shipwreck. No. 98, from the Rang Kwian shipwreck (1982), a fragment of a large jar with bodhi leaf motifs, was dated A. D. 1270 +/- 60 (13th century). No. 99, a large jar with sayma motifs (like lotus petals) on the shoulder, height 61 cm., found on the Si Chang II shipwreck, was dated A.D. 1290 +/- 60 (13th century). No. 100, a medium-sized baluster jar with trumpet mouth and four knobs on the shoulder, height 33.5 cm., found on the Rang Kwian shipwreck, was dated A. D. 1290 +/- 60 (13th century). No. 101, a fragment of a large jar with impressed motif of a rider on horseback, from the Rang Kwian shipwreck, was dated A. D. 1270 +/- 60 (13th century). Both the Rang Kwian and the Si Chang II shipwrecks were found along the coast of eastern Thailand in the Gulf of Siam (ibid., 10[map], nos. 3, 20); they apparently sank on their outward journeys.

Sāyan Phraichānčhit (Sayan Prishanchit), Siriphan Yapsanthīa (Siriphan Yapsanthea), and ʻAtcharā Khǣngsārikit, eds. 1990. Khrư̄angthūai čhāk thalē (Ceramics from the Gulf of Thailand). Vol. 2, Bōrānnakhadī sī khrām (Underwater Archaeology in Thailand). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

3. (Louise A. Cort, 24 February 2000) "Ban Bang Pun kilns," added as Locale to Origin and "Suphanburi province," added as Province to Origin. Information was removed from previous Historical Region field, as they denote modern place names.

4. (Louise Cort, 28 June 2000)  A Suphanburi jar of this shape, height 51.2 cm, diameter 46.0 cm, is illustrated together with six other Suphanburi jars found in the Philippines, in Valdes et al. 1992, no. 154.

Valdes, Cynthia O., Kerry Nguyen-Long, and Artemio C. Barbosa. 1992. A Thousand Years of Stoneware in the Philippines. Makati, Metro Manila: Jar Collectors (Philippines) with the support of Eugenio Lopez Foundation Inc. and in cooperation with the National Museum and the Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines.

5. (Louise Cort, 11 September 2000)  At my request, Ellen Salzman in the Department of Conservation and Scientific Research measured the capacity of this jar and found that it held between 126 and 128 liters when measured to the narrowest diameter of the neck.

6. (Louise Cort, 24 October 2000)  One baluster-shaped jar, one intact jar of this form (height 46 cm) and fragments of a very large jar (diameter of mouthrim 36 cm) were recovered from the Turiang shipwreck, discovered in 1998 in the South China Sea off the southeastern tip of peninsular Malaysia (Brown and Sjostrand 2000, 36–37).  The ship, allegedly Chinese, carried a cargo consisting mainly of wares from the Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok) kilns in Thailand. The wreck is asserted to date to the Yuan dynasty in the fourteenth century (pre-1368), but I would not be surprised if a late fourteenth or early fifteenth century date were demonstrated. The iron-decorated dishes with floral motifs from the Thai kilns closely resemble the iron-decorated Vietnamese dishes dated conservatively to the second half of the fourteenth century, based on finds in Japan.

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2000. Turiang: A Fourteenth–Century Shipwreck in Southeast Asia. Los Angeles: Pacific Asia Museum.

7. (Louise Cort, 25 November 2002) Jars of this type are reported from shipwrecks in the waters off the east coast of peninsular Malaysia (Brown and Sjostrand 2001).  Specifically, such jars have been recovered from the sites of wrecks that Brown and Sjostrand date to +/- 1370 (the wreck named by them the "Turiang"), +/- 1380 ("Nanyang"), and +/- 1400 ("Longquan"). Jars from the first two wrecks measure about 90 cm high and have a liquid volume of about 260 liters (ibid., 47; also color pl. 46). According to Brown and Sjostrand, Suphanburi jars do not appear on later shipwrecks in the region, on which they are replaced by jars from the Singburi (Maenam Noi) kiln complex. They therefore propose that the Suphanburi kilns were active in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries (ibid., 29).

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2001. Maritime Archaeology and Shipwreck Ceramics in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Department of Museums and Antiques.

8. (Louise Cort, 12 March 2004) A large jar (h. 63.5 cm) that looks like Suphanburi ware was found on the Cu Lao Cham shipwreck off the coast of central Vietnam from Hoi An (Butterfields, ed. 2000, lot 715). The jar was paired with a large domed lid bearing fly-ash glaze on the dome and iron wash around the edge, which reaches well down over the shoulder. Notably the jar bears no stamped motifs, only "intermittent bands of incised lines which encircle the narrow short raised neck along with four small ornamental lug handles." This wreck has been dated late 15th–early 16th century on the basis of Carbon-14 dating of the ship's timbers (Guy 2000, xv). It may help provide information on the stylistic evolution of Suphanburi jars.

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

Guy, John. 2000. "Vietnamese Ceramics: New Discoveries." XII–XX in Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard, session I, edited by Butterfields. San Francisco and Los Angeles: Butterfields.

9. (Louise Cort, 1 April 2004) Large storage jars from the Suphanburi kilns, like those found on the Turiang shipwreck, were also found on the Nanyang and Longquan shipwrecks (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 29). Brown and Sjostrand state that "the Suphanburi kilns were active in the 14th and early 15th centuries, and then they apparently closed. Only jars from the Maenam noi [Singburi province] complex are found on shipwrecks beginning in the mid-15th century." (ibid., 29). The Nanyang wreck was found off the eastern coast of southern peninsular Malaysia (north of the Turiang) and is dated by the authors +/- 1380. It carried Si Satchanalai celadon dishes and some Maenam Noi and Chinese wares. The Suphanburi jars, too large to bring to the surface, were estimated to be 90 cm in height and to have a liquid volume of about 260 liters (ibid., 47). The Longquan wreck, further north along the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia, was dated +/- 1400and carried a mixed load of Si Satchanalai celadon (40%), Chinese celadon (40%), underglaze iron Sukhothai wares (20%) (ibid., 49).

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2001. Maritime Archaeology and Shipwreck Ceramics in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Department of Museums and Antiques.

10. (Louise Cort, 2 August 2005) In discussion at the Asian Ceramics Conference at the Field Museum, Chicago, sponsored by the Asian Ceramics Research Organization (ACRO), 23–25 October 1998, Thai archaeologist Sayan Prishanchit noted that there are many kiln sites along the river in Suphanburi province. Some Suphanburi jars were on the Rang Kwian shipwreck, which dates to the early 14th century. Others have been found in the rivers in Central Thailand, with burnt human bone inside. The motifs in the stamps used on Suphanburi jars—the ploughing ceremony, warriors on horseback, fighting elephants—all refer to royal ceremonies. The kilns seem to have been active up to the late 16th century. Several large jars with sema leaf patterns were found on the Ko Si Chang shipwreck.

11. (Louise Cort, 28 January 2008) Changed Ware from Suphanburi ware to Ban Bang Pun ware. (Spelling changed from Baan Bang Pun.)

12. (Louise Cort, 7 December 2010) In 1968 John Pope saw a similar large jar in the Dr. Arturo de Santos Collection, Manila. It was identified to him as "Khmer" (John Pope wrote the term in quotes on a photograph of the de Santos jar, indicating the provisional nature of the attribution.)

13. (Louise Cort, 21 January 2014) According to Wanaporn Khumbut, assistant curator of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University, TL tests on materials from the Ban Bang Pun kiln sites provided a range of dates from the late 14th to mid-15th century. Several shipwrecks found in Southeast Asia with these wares are also dated to the same period.

14. (Louise Cort, 3 Feb 2015) Transferred from the Provenance Field: The jar was purchased in Bangkok in the early 1960s by an American couple who lived in Burma and Thailand in the 1950s through part of the 1960s. The jar was purchased from one of the reputable dealers in Bangkok.

15. (Louise Cort, 9 Feb 2015) A jar of this type (same decoration and seemingly same size) belonged to Sarah and Konrad Bekker, who lived in Burma and Thailand. The Bekkers' jar was number 2032 in their collection, and it is shown in three numbered slides (dated June 1971) in the Bekker material now in the Freer|Sackler Archives.

16. (Louise Cort, 9 May 2016) Changed Date from 14th-16th century to 14th-mid 15th century.

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