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

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Vessel in form of kneeling hunch-backed man

  • Stoneware with iron and white glazes
  • 7.5 x 7.5 x 7.5 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • late 15th-16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Provenance: Probably Indonesia
  • Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • F1994.22


1. (Stephen P. Koob, 3 February 1992) Small glazed hunch-back figure. Glazed stoneware with molded and incised decoration, brown/black glaze and white glaze over white slip.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 25 November 1996) A fragment of this type of figurine was found at Pegu, Burma (Hein et al. 1989).

Hein, Don, Mike Barbetti, and Peter Grave. 1989. "Southeast Asian ceramics; the Burmese contribution?" The Siam Society Newsletter 5(1): 8–18.

2. (Louise Cort, 5 November 2003) This supplicating figure (a common form in Si Satchanalai figural vessels) bears an interesting relationship to a Vietnamese vessel found in Indonesia in the form of a stocky male figure (height 24.5 cm) "in posture of supplication," with dark skin and holding a kris; on the figure's raised right knee is a cylindrical vessel that may be a spout equivalent to the jar held by the Freer figure (Bùi and Nguyễn-Long 2001, pl. 119).

Bùi Minh Trí, and Kerry Nguyễn-Long. 2001. Gốm Hoa Lam Việt Nam (Vietnamese Blue and White Ceramics). Hanoi: Nhà xuảt bấn khoa học xā hội (Social sciences publishing house).

3. (Louise Cort, 1 April 2004) Three related vessels for pouring water in the form of human figures were on view in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in December 2003: 64.104.2, 1989.238.44, and 1992.5.

4. (Louise Cort, 11 January 2005) To Geography added Sukhothai province, Si Satchanalai. Changed Medium from Glazed stoneware clay, brown and white glaze to Stoneware with iron pigment under milky white glaze.

5. (Louise Cort, 17 February 2008) From shipwreck evidence, Roxanna Brown finds that opaque white glaze appears on objects recovered from wrecks that she dates to the early 16th century, circa 1500–1520. They appear at the same time as the so-called brown and white wares, decorated with iron brown and opaque white glazes (Brown 2004, 74).

Changed Date from 15th–16th century to Late 15th–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. (Louise Cort, 3 November 2011) According to Pariwat Thammapreechakorn, figures of this type are women, not men. They are distinguished by their knot of hair. They carry a fan and a water bottle, representing their role in bringing water to the home during hot weather.

7. (Najiba Choudhury per J. Smith, September 14, 2015) Transferred from the Provenance text field: "(Ken J.J.Baars, 12 November 1991) The S.E. Asian Ceramics now under consideration have been part of my private collection, acquired from various private sources during my stay in S.E. Asia from 1966 to 1970. During this period I carried out geophysical fieldwork for the Royal Dutch Shell Co. in S.E. Asia. My Oriental Ceramics collection was shipped to Holland with the rest of my personal belongings in early 1970 when my contract with the Brunei Shell Company ended."

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