Baluster-form jar

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 17.1 cm
  • 1075-1430, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Provenance: Bangkok, Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
  • S1996.117


1. Jar with pedestal base, tapering body, flattened shoulder, thick neck, and everted mouth with heavy flanged rim.

Wheel thrown from coil attached to flat disk. Base flat, wrinkled texture, center slightly recessed within broad, flat rim around circumference, which shows abrasion. Constructed as a single vessel (not assembled from separately-made parts), with body built directly on hollow pedestal base and neck directly on shoulder. Torqueing of clay visible on interior of pedestal base. Body probably built in several stages, from coils attached to upper edge of vessel in progress. Neck rises off horizontal ledge, tapering inward, then outward in continuous curve, forming corresponding angled ledge above, of same diameter; thick everted rim bends down slightly, beneath upright flange. Extensive kiln debris adhering to shoulder and rim, rim warped, indicating borderline overfiring. (Highest apparent firing temperature of all brown-glazed pieces in Hauge collection.)

Clay: stoneware, medium gray where exposed, reddish on abraded areas on base, lighter gray where revealed by flaking glaze, minute black specks. One pebble braking surface of short column on pedestal base.

Decoration: base trimmed with upright edge, two flanges along surface tapering inward; short cylindrical column; three flanges along surface tapering outward to visual (bottom) of vessel proper (though no break on interior).

On body, two incised thick horizontal lines close together on lower body, roughly incised, with soft wet clay pushed out along edges. Just below shoulder, band of five incised thick horizontal lines. Band decorated with linked diamond motif, produced by repeated impressions of inverted V-shaped die (metal? with thin blades producing fine lines). Two closely-spaced incised thick horizontal grooves. Flattened shoulder filled with scalloped combing, incised with five-toothed combing tool, in open, shallow swags, pointing downward and leaning to left, some arcs overlapping incised grooves at base of neck.

Glaze: iron glaze, translucent dark olive green, darker where pooled along flanges and grooves. Glaze reaches to upfacing surface of pedestal base, spills over in one place. Thin coating of glaze extends partway into neck, overlapped by thicker irregular runs of glaze (caused by interaction of glaze and accumulating ash during firing). No glaze on vessel interior.

2. (Debra Diamond and Emma Stein, "Power in Southeast Asia," Gallery 26b, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Oct. 14, 2017-indefinite)

Baluster-form jar
Cambodia or northeastern Thailand, Buriram Province, 11th–12th century
Stoneware with iron glaze
Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery S1996.117

The Power of Water
To your left, the sage Agastya, leader of the holy men (rishis), carries a ritual waterpot (kundika) in his left hand. The vessel contains consecrated water, considered as potent as the elixir of life (amrita). Agastya is identified by his pot, pointed beard, and breath-filled belly. His trident connects him with the Hindu god Shiva, and the two lotuses growing from behind the pot announce his purity.

The ringed base of Agastya’s pot also appears in the baluster-form jar to your right. This resemblance is not coincidental. The ringed shape was transmitted through portable metal vessels from India to Southeast Asia, where it was adapted in ceramic, a less costly material. Whereas the Indian kundika carried holy water, the Khmer jar may have contained beer.

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, 208–211.

2. 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, 147 (illus.), no. 65.

3. 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: 165, cat. no. 65.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Victor  Hauge, November 1996)  Baluster-form jar with high foot, cross hatching and combed design around shoulder, greenish-brown glaze overall.

2. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Changed Date from 11th-12th century to 1075-1430, following Desbat's revised chronology based on excavations in the Angkor area over the past two decades (Desbat 2011, 26). Evidence for baluster-form jars centers on the 12th-13th centuries, although Desbat proposes that their production probably continued into the 14th and 15th centuries (Desbat 19-21). Evidence for vessels with "chestnut brown" (marron) glaze centers on 1075-1430 also (Desbat 2011, 26).

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

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