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

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Cylindrical vat with three lugs on the shoulder, a short neck, and wide mouth

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 66.1 x 39.4 cm
  • 1177-1430, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
  • S1996.114


Tall vat with flat base, elongated cylindrical body, high squared shoulder bearing three ornamental lugs, low neck, wide mouth with thick everted rim.
Thrown from coils attached to flat disc base. Base flat, deeply cratered, worn around circumperence of slightly concave center, some gouges probably made at time of removing vessel from turntable. Seams suggest that base is a composite of several wads of clay, imperfectly joined, to create exceptionally large diameter. Vessel constructed in sections, with intervals of drying--perhaps four wall sections plus shoulder and neck. Rough horizontal groves from throwing of coils visible on interior. Less prominant throwing marks, and indentations at seams, visible on exterior. Two carved tiers at base of neck attachment, above which short neck curves in and rises, then curves out in thick everted rim with flange.
Clay: stoneware, medium golden-brown where exposed, lighter shade where worn away on base.
Decoration: at base, trimmed rounded edge followed by three closely-spaced bevels. Band of horizontal combing, with comb internittenly and rhythmically jabbed into the clay, creating rough cross-hatched texture. Two wide incised horizontal grooves. Band of combing, using four-toothed combing tool, with curved undulations equally spaced upwards and downwards. Band of combed horizontal lines, probably using same four-toothed combing tool. Band of combing using four-toothed combing tool, uneven undulations slightly elongated to left. Immediately above (with no intervening horizontal lines), dynamic combing, using four-toothed comb, with spikes pointing upward, reaching almost to midpoint of vessel body. After an interval, the same motif repeated in reverese, with spikes pointing downward. Pair of incised horizontal lines. Band of combing, using four-toothed comb, uneven undulations slightly elongated to left. Pair of incised horizontal lines. Band of cross-hatching created by repetition of parallel diagonal marks incised freehand, first slanting down to left, then down to right. Single incised horizontal line. Single incised zigzag line, tending to point at top, curve at bottom. This line occurs just below curve of shoulder. Close to base of neck, single incised line, gently undulating, followed by another undulating single line with slightly deeper curves. (In spots the upper undulating line runs over base of neck, showing neck was completed before decoration began.) In intevening space on shoulder defined by the zigzag and undulating lines, eleven deep downward-pointing chevrons, incised freehand, consisting of four pairs of two closely spaced lines (creating "band"), descending from evenly spaced points around upper undulating line and converging just above zigzag line
Three ornamental lugs attached over the paired undulating lines at equidistant points around shoulder, made from nubbins of clay pinched into flat-topped triangular form pointing slightly in toward neck.
Glaze: iron glaze, mottled and streaked, ranging from thin, translucent olive green to thick, dark brown. Some areas of wear, flaking and glaze loss. Random drips of glaze on otherwise unglazed interior.

Published References

1. Frasché, Dean. 1976. Southeast Asian Ceramics Ninth through Seventeenth Centuries. New York: Asia Society, no. 4. Lent anonymously. Described as from Buriram or Surin province, dated 11th–13th century.

2. Dupoizat, Marie-France. 1988. "Recherches sur les Jarres en Asie du Sud-Est." Ph.D. Thesis, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

3. 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, 208–211.

4. Cort, Louise Allison, Massumeh Farhad, and Ann C. Gunter. 2000. Asian Traditions in Clay: The Hauge Gifts. Washington, D.C.: Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 148 (illus.), no. 75.

5. Cort, Louise Allison (translated by Tabata Yukitsugu). 2002. "Kumeeru tōki—Hauge korekushon wo chūshin to shita Kumeeru tōki no kenkyū." Tōnan Ajia kōkogaku [Journal of Southeast Asian Archaeology] (Journal of the Japan Society of Southeast Asian Archaeology) 22: 166, cat. no. 75.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Victor Hauge, November 1996) Large storage jar with circumferential bands of combed design and cross-hatching.  Three ear loops at base of neck. Brown glaze overall.

2. (Louise Cort, 24 June 1999) Pamela Vandiver observed that this vessel was fired in oxidation, judging from the glaze tonalities. The glaze is olive brown on the "cool" side and dark brown on the "hot" side.

3. (Louise Cort, 25 June 1999) According to Bernard Groslier, vessels of this shape ("large grain jars") first appear in excavated sites in the first half of the 11th century (Groslier 1981, 24).  He noted that combing began to be used on the upper body of such jars in the last quarter of the 11th century (ibid., 28).

Groslier, Bernard Philippe. 1981. "Introduction to the Ceramic Wares of Angkor". Pp. 9–39 in Khmer Ceramics 9th–14th Century, edited by Diana Stock. Singapore: Oriental Ceramics Society.   

4. (Louise Cort, 25 January 2005) Marie-France Dupoizat (Dupoizat 1988, 563) noted that this jar weighs 17 kg.

5. (Louise Cort, 28 May 2007) The ceramics storeroom of the Dong Nai Museum in Bien Hoa contains ceramics recovered within the province, primarily from the Dong Nai River, especially in the vicinity of Bien Hoa. A jar of this type is in the collection. It is larger (h. 75 cm) and also plainer, with no decoration other than wide horizontal bands of incised stripes at the neck (above four pinched ornamental lugs), shoulder, mid-body and above the base. The brown glaze appears to have been brushed on and is mottled and abraded. Two other jars of Angkorian style are also in the storage; both are somewhat rounder in form and even plainer in design.

6. (Louise Cort, 5 October 2007) Sok Keo Sovannara suggests that this vessel shape is known in Khmer as an (written with a macron over the a, a dot over the n, pronounced a-a-ng).

7. (Louise Cort, 31 January 2008) Fragments of an Angkorian period (or Angkorian style) brown-glazed jar, seemingly of this type (judging from a small black-and-white photograph), were excavated from the Kyo-no-uchi site at the Shuri Castle site, although it was not identified as such in the publication (Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa ed. 2001, 67, fig. 399, estimated height 53.7 cm). The Kyo-no-uchi site finds spanned the mid-14th through 16th century, and it is unclear from the exhibition catalogue in which context the jar was found. The Kyo-no-uchi area was used for court rituals and contained storerooms for ritual paraphernalia, including 14–15 century (Yuan and early Ming) celadon and cobalt-decorated porcelain.

Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa [Okinawa Prefecture Center for Buried Cultural Properties], ed. 2001. Shūrijō Kyō-no-uchi ten—Bōeki tōji kara mita dai kōeki jidai [Exhibition on Shuri castle, Kyo-no-uchi—the great age of trade as seen through trade ceramics. Nishihara-cho, Okinawa: Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa.

8. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Changed Date from 12th-13th century to 1177-1430, following Desbat's revised chronology based on excavations in the Angkor area over the past two decades (Desbat 2011, 26). Evidence for vessels with matte brown or black glaze centers on that time span.

Armand Desbat. 2011. Pour une revision de la chronologie des gres khmers. Aseanie 27 (juin), 11-34.

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