• Stoneware with clear glaze; iron wash on base
  • 6.1 x 23.9 x 23.9 cm
  • 14th-15th century, Tran or Later Le dynasty
  • Origin: Red River Delta kilns, Hai Duong province, Vietnam
  • Provenance: Indonesia
  • Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • F1995.14


Medium-sized dish with decoration incised through the glaze.
Clay: ivory stoneware body.
Glaze: clear glaze; iron wash "chocolate" base.
Decoration: A single large floral (probably lotus) spray fills the center, while the well is filled by a floral scroll.

Published References

1. Stevenson, John, and John Guy, eds. 1997. Vietnamese Ceramics, A Separate Tradition. Chicago: Art Media Resources, 306[pl. 241], published as "collection of John R. Menke," dated "15th–16th century."

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise A. Cort, 1 December 1995) This type of dish represents a transition—a relatively rare experiment—with incised decoration based on the painted decor of Chinese Yuan and early Ming blue-and-white porcelain (14th–15th century). Eventually painted decor, executed first with iron and eventually with cobalt, came to predominate on northern Vietnamese ceramics. The form and decoration of this dish relate it closely to early versions of such painted dishes. (See Freer collection for an iron-decorated example, F1994.15). Dishes with painted decor replaced the earlier dominant monochrome pieces. (See Freer collection for two examples of smaller, undecorated white-glazed dishes, one earlier than this dish [F1994.13] and the other contemporaneous [F1994.15]).

Dishes of this size with incised decoration seem to be few in number. See comparanda for examples of this type of dish.

2. (Louise A. Cort, 1 December 1995) See Freer collection F1994.13, and F1994.15.

For other dishes of this size with incised decoration see:
Metropolitan Museum of Art (diam. 38.5 cm), published in Frasché 1976, no. 80, then in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Griffing; dated 15th–16th century. This piece was purchased by John Menke from Robert Griffing and later donated to the Metropolitan Museum. The central design is of a lotus.

Another which seems later in date (sixteenth century) is in the Tokyo National Museum (Mikami, ed. 1984, no. 37).

Frasché, Dean. 1976. Southeast Asian Ceramics Ninth through Seventeenth Centuries. New York: Asia Society.

Mikami Tsugio, ed. 1984. Nankai (Southeast Asia). Vol. 16, Sekai Tōji Zenshū (Ceramic Art of the World). Tokyo: Shogakukan.

3. (Elizabeth Nguyen, intern, and Louise A. Cort, October 1996) Media, "Pottery, white stoneware" changed to "Glazed white stoneware." Subject, "Bowl" changed to "Dish with incised decoration."

4. (Allison Diem, 20 October 1998) Fifteenth century?

5. (Regina Krahl, 10 December 1998) I would suggest a date of 13th–14th century, based on the greenish tone of the glaze.  Has the rim been rubbed down? It has been repaired.

6. (Louise Cort, 15 May 2000) The dish in the Metropolitan collection, formerly in the Griffing collection, is accessioned as 1992.72.2. It bears white slip under the clear glaze.  It has been broken and repaired.

7. (Louise Cort, 12 February 2002) To date, added "Later Le dynasty (1428–1524)."

8. (Louise Cort, 3 May 2004) An incised design of a dragon chasing a flaming pearl, cut through the white slip and clear glaze into the clay body, appears on the undersides of two broad, shallow dishes with narrow feet carefully decorated with clear blue cobalt on the upper surfaces with designs of a floral spray inside a double ring in the bottom and and a narrow band of classic scroll inside the rim. Both are in Japanese collections.
(1)  Toyama Satoh Fine Arts Museum: diam. 17.9 cm (Bùi and Nguyễn-Long, 2001, 252, no. 20, dated 14th century.
(2)  Fukuoka City Museum of Art: diam. 18.0 cm (Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan 2001, no. 3, dated 14–15th century.  Curator Yajima Ritsuko comments (ibid., 96) mentions that the Toyama Satoh Museum dish is said to have been excavated in the Philippines.

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).

Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan (Machida City Museum), ed. 2001. Betonamu seika—Daietsu no shijo no hana [Vietnamese blue-and-white—Flowering of the supremacy of Dai Viet], Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan zuroku 122. Machida: Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan.

9. (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 he found this dish comparable in design to sixteenth century celadon-glazed dishes.

10. (Louise Cort, 24 March 2005) Several dishes with comparable decoration in underglaze iron or cobalt—notably the thin, crisp leaves encircling the central flower, which in those cases is a chrysanthemum—are dated 14th century in Bùi and Nguyễn-Long 2001, 249–254). Some dishes with underglaze cobalt decoration showing similar pointy leaves, recovered from the Cu Lao Cham shipwreck, are dated 15th century (ibid., 292).

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).

11. (Louise Cort, 8 April 2005) Research by Blythe McCarthy confirmed the resemblance of the glaze composition on this bowl to that of F1929.82, as well as to Dehua ware, and its dissimilarity to Jingdezhen ware. See the Conservation report.

12. (R. Anderson per J. Smith, Oct. 25, 2010) Transfer of remark from Provenance Field: "1. (Louise A. Cort, 1 December 1995) This dish, purchased from Eric Zetterquist, was on consignment from Mr. John Menke, a collector in Scarsdale, New York. Mr. Menke purchased the dish from Robert Griffing, who acquired it in Indonesia in the late 1960's.

This information was confirmed with Mr. Menke. As a nuclear physicist, Mr. Menke worked in Southeast Asia on acquisition of uranium and formed much of his collection of Southeast Asian ceramics at that time. He was a close friend of Robert Griffing of the Honolulu Academy of Arts. He gave most of his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art on the occasion of the opening of the South and Southeast Asian galleries. A "sister piece" to this dish, also acquired from Robert Griffing, is in the collection at the Met (see Related Works)."

13. (Louise Cort, 15 May 2015) After reviewing various references listed above, changed Date from 15th century to 14th-15th century. Changed Period from Later Le dynasty to Tran or Later Le dynasty.

field notes

Submit Comment 0 comments total

No field notes found.

main image

View larger image [511KB] > >

sample thumbnailsample thumbnailsample thumbnailsample thumbnail

Click to view alternate images