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

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Lime-paste jar in form of a rabbit, with lid

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 9.4 x 8 x 9.5 cm
  • 1177-1430, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
  • S1996.148a-b

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) Lime pot in rabbit form, brown-glazed conical lid.

2. (Louise Cort, 31 October 1997) According to Yagi Akira, Kyoto ceramic artist, this piece was pinched out by hand from a solid mass of clay.

3. (Louise Cort, 19 January 1999) A lime-paste pot in the form of a rabbit, brown glaze, collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is published in Frasché 1976 (no. 11 [h.11.7 cm]).  It is said to have come from Surin Province and is dated 12th–13th century.

A lime-paste pot in the form of a rabbit, brown glaze, is published in Stock ed. 1981, no. 96 (height 11 cm.).  It is dated 13th–14th century.

Rabbit-shaped lime-paste pots with brown glaze are illustrated in Fujiwara 1990, pl. 101–104.  Plates 101 and 104 are closest to the abstract, ornamented form of the Sackler vessel; plates 102 and 103 are far more naturalistic in their rendering of the rabbit body.

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

Stock, Diana, ed. 1981. Khmer Ceramics 9th–14th Century. Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society.

Fujiwara Hiroshi. 1990. Kumeeru ōkoku no kotō (Khmer Ceramics from the Kamratan Collection). Singapore: Oxford University Press.

4. (Louise Cort, 1 June 1999) A brown-glazed rabbit shaped lime pot, in the collection of the Bangkok National Museum, has been adapted for carrying by drilling a hole through the paired ears, passing a heavy wire through the hole, and joining the two ends to the existing loop in the tail.  A silver lid has been made to cover the opening (Natthaphat 1989, 109).  Just when the adaptation was made is uncertain, but it hints that some Khmer ceramics remained in ongoing use for centuries.

Natthaphat Čhanthawit et al. 1989. Khrư̄ang thūai čhāk lǣng taophao Čhangwat Burīram (Ancient kiln sites in Buriram Province). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

5. (Louise Cort, 10 June 1999) This rabbit-shaped vessel appears to be entirely hand modeled, whereas the other rabbit vessels (S1996.169–170) are wheel thrown.  But were the zoomorphic features of this and other Khmer vessels applied by assistants in the workshop—wives, children—rather than by the experienced potters who kept busy at the wheel?  That division of labor may account for the charming, childlike quality of the decor of many such pieces.  And some of the hand modeled pieces may be entirely the work of people unable to use the potter's wheel (compare the rabbit, S1996.148; the frog, S1996.149; the lion, S1996.150; and the bird, S1996.154).

6. (Louise Cort, 11 June 1999) The small loop handle on the back of the vessel has parallels in bronze vessels; in both cases the handle presumably served to attach a lid, using a cord or chain.  A bronze bird-shaped vessel is illustrated in Guy 1992, fig. 24, l.0 cm, collection of Don and Naiyanee Petrie, Bangkok.

Guy, John. 1992. "Southeast Asian Glazed Ceramics: A Study of Sources". Pp. 98–114 in New Perspectives on the Art of Ceramics in China, edited by George Kuwayama. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

7. (Louise Cort, 25 June 1999) Bernard Groslier associated this sort of hand-carved decoration on zoomorphic vessels with the late 11th century (Groslier 1981, 28, no. 44).

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.

8. (Louise Cort, 28 December 2004) Changed title from Lime pot in rabbit form with lid to Rabbit-shaped lime paste vessel with lid.

9. (Louise Cort, 20 September 2007) A bronze official's seal in the shape of a palm squirrel in the collection of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (1973.146) is dated 12th–13th century. In size and rendering it suggests a metal prototype for this type of hand-sculpted (rather than wheel-thrown) ceramic vessel.

10. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Changed Date from late 11th 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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