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

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Bowl with incised decoration

  • Stoneware with celadon glaze
  • 8.9 x 15.9 cm
  • 13th-14th century, Tran dynasty
  • Origin: Red River Delta kilns, Hai Duong province, Vietnam
  • Provenance: Indonesia
  • Purchase — funds provided by the Docents of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
  • F1998.11


1. (Stephen P. Koob, 10 February 1998) Round bowl, almost hemispherical in shape, with a flat base, and slightly incurving rim. Incised on the exterior with a broad lotus petal design on the lower body, and covered inside and out with a brown-green glaze. Base is unglazed. Pronounced crackle to the glaze. One side of the bowl is slightly dented and has a firing flaw/contact mark from leaning against another vessel in the kiln.

2. (Louise Cort, 3 March 1998) This small bowl with inverted rim was decorated before glazing with eight lotus petals rising from the base, casually incised with double lines. Horizontal double lines ring the mouth and the widest point of the body. Numerous specks of iron have bled into the glossy, olive-green celadon glaze. The flat base is unglazed; the bottom bears five triangular spur marks inside an incised ring.

Published References

1. Lawton, Thomas, and Thomas W. Lentz. 1988. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 212–213.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 3 March 1998) These five vessels (F1998.10–14) were made at workshops in the Red River Delta ceramics complex of northern Vietnam and their dates span the 12th through 14th centuries, during the Ly (1009–1225) and Tran (1225–1400) dynasties. They represent the sensitive, subtle forms of wares glazed with ivory or celadon-colored glazes that are viewed by many connoisseurs as the finest products of Vietnamese kilns (Stevenson and Guy eds. 1997, 23). These wares, made prior to Vietnam's active engagement in international trade from the mid-14th century onward, which resulted in the deposition of Vietnamese ceramics in Turkey, Egypt, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, are said to embody indigenous taste more explicitly than the blue-and-white ceramics that were the main trade cargo. Presumably the customers for such ceramics were local rulers, nobles, and temples.

Stevenson, John, and John Guy, eds. 1997. Vietnamese Ceramics, A Separate Tradition. Chicago: Art Media Resources.

2. (Louise Cort, 5 June 2000) A very similar bowl in the collection of John Stevenson, Seattle, on view at the Seattle Art Museum, is dated late Ly or early Tran, 12–13th century.

3. (R. Anderson per J. Smith, Oct. 29, 2010) Transfer of remark from Provenance Field: "1. (Louise Cort, 19 December 1997) The Chao Phraya proprietors explained that this bowl came from a collector who had acquired it in Indonesia around 1982."

4. (Louise Cort, 13 November 2012) A plain bowl of this shape, with this color glaze, is in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia (accession number AS8-1989).

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