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

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Cylindrical jar with lid

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 23.6 x 17.9 x 17.9 cm
  • 1075-1430, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
  • S1996.120a-b


Cylindrical jar with flat lid overlapping upright flange on body.

Wheel-thrown, seemingly from coil attached to upper edge of flat disk; light in proportion to size. Base flat, smooth, abraded around circumference. Cylindrical body rising from narrow base to widest diameter just below rim. Incurving flange to support lid. Cap-shaped lid wheel-thrown upside-down as nearly flat-bottomed dish with low, straight sides; throwing spiral remains in center of underside beneath knob (which was probably added as separate piece of clay to lid turned upright, then thrown). Top of lid rises slightly to central knob, shaped like flattened "jewel." Lid heavy in proportion to size. Differences in clay, decor, and glaze suggest that body and lid did not originally match.

(1) Body

Clay: stoneware, reddish-brown where exposed, gray where revealed by glaze losses.

Decoration: Deep bevel above base, with additional clay trimmed from lower half of bevel. Single horizontal incised line. Band of scalloped combing (using five-toothed combing tool), irregularly spaced, pointing downward and leaning right. Pair of incised horizontal lines creating narrow flange. Single incised horizontal line. Band of scalloped combing, wider than band below (using seven-toothed combing tool), irregularly spaced, pointing upward, leaning right. Pair of incised horizontal lines.

Glaze: iron glaze, translucent mottled amber brown. One vertical dark "stripe" of glaze where glaze coats may have overlapped as vessel was rolled sideways in vat of glaze. Glaze ends messily at base and seems to have been partially wiped away; where very thin, the glaze has flaked off. Flange and interior of vessel unglazed.

(2) Lid

Clay: stoneware, dark gray where exposed, lighter gray where revealed by flaking glaze.

Decoration: on side and upper edge of lid, cross-hatched band created by incising closely-spaced horizontal lines, then overlaying with colsely-spaced vertical lines. At base of knob, scalloped single line, ends pointing outward; raised flat shelf incised with radiating straight lines; raised flat shelf supporting "jewel"-shaped flattened knob on short stem.

Glaze: iron glaze, translucent yellowish-brown where thin, opaque medium brown where thick. On interior, glaze seemingly spilled on irregularly (intentionally?), then wiped off with rag or straw.

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.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Victor Hauge, November 1996) Cylindrical brown-glazed storage jar with deep lid covering wide mouth, belts of combed design around lower body.

2. (Louise Cort, 2 June 1999) The difference in incised decor between the lid (cross-hatching) and the body (fine combing) suggests a match of two different pieces from urns of the same type and size.

3. (Louise Cort, 17 June 1999) Bernard Philippe Groslier identified this type of container as a cinerary urn, based on comparison with vessels of similar shape made and used for that purpose in present-day Cambodia.  Two such vessels are in the collection of the Museum of Natural History, Lyon (collected by Roland Mourer in the early 1970s).

4. (Louise Cort, 18 December 2003) A green-glazed casket with a plain lid was excavated from test pit no. 4 at the site of Muang Fa Daet Song Yang, Amphoe Kamalasai, Kalasin Province, containing "human ashes" (bones are visible in the photograph) (Phasook ca. 2002, 102). The casket is dated 11th–12th century. Muang Fa Daet Song Yang is usually thought of as a Dvaravati period site, but this gives evidence that at the least the site continued to be a later locus for burial.

A green-glazed casket with tall knob on the lid was found at the ancient city of Srimahasot, Prachinburi province (ibid., 153). The context of the find is not described.

Phasook Indrawooth (Phasook Intrawooth). ca. 2002. A Guiding Manual for Permanent Exhibition "Social and Cultural Development in Thailand" Prehistory. Bangkok: Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn Anthropology Center.

5. (Louise Cort, 19 October 2006) The Musée Guimet, Paris, displays Chinese ceramics recovered from the shipwreck "Breaker," found off the coast of Palawan in the Philippines and dating to the end of 11th or beginning of 12th century. The cargo includes cylindrical brown-glazed vessels with cap-shaped lids with large knobs, similar in appearance to this jar and suggesting a date for it.

6. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Changed Date from 11th-13th 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 vessels with "chestnut brown:" (marron) 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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