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

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Bottle with two vertical ring handles

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 18.6 x 18.1 x 18.1 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Provenance: Probably Indonesia
  • Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • F1994.24

Description

1. (Janet G. Douglas, 20 November 1991) The bulbous jar has a narrow mouth and two small handles that extend from the mouth to the body. The brown glaze is fairly translucent and extends to an inch or two above the base. Incised concentric grooves on the upper body are filled with the glaze, and create decoration. The jar is wheel made, and the clay is a high fired stoneware.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise A. Cort, 17 February 1992) The lustrous glaze on this example of a well-known Si Satchanalai jar type is especially fine, its condition suggesting that it was a carefully-preserved heirloom piece. 

The shape is of particular interest because it may have been the prototype for a jar type produced at the Seto and Mino kilns in the 16th century. The idea of Thai models for late Muromachi and Momoyama Japanese ceramics has not been proposed by Japanese scholars, but it is one that I feel has validity and should be borne out eventually by archaeology or heirloom pieces.

2. (Louise Cort, 10 August 2004) During a visit of Washington Oriental Ceramic Group members to Freer storage on 17 April 1998, Jack Lydman commented that in Kalimantan such pots were known as kalappa, coconut or "head" pots. In the sixteenth century, a pot was worth a head in exchange.

3. (Louise Cort, 17 February 2008) Changed Title from Jar to Round bottle with two ring handles.

4. (Louise Cort, 20 May 2008) Based on her research on shipwrecks, Roxanna Brown shows that "coconut" jars of this type were an enduring form from the early 15th through 16th century (Brown 2004). A jar of very similar format—notably the multiple incised bands on the shoulder—was recovered from the Espanola shipwreck, which Brown dates to circa 1512–1540 (ibid., pl. 66-3).

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.

5. (Louise Cort, 2 June 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, placed this bottle in the LASW (Late Stoneware) phase of Sawankhalok production, which he dates to early 15th to 16th century. He noted the matte surface on the base and speculated that it was the result of use or burial.

6. (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. (This piece was acquired by the seller in Indonesia in the 1960's)"


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