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

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Figure of a peacock

  • Stoneware with iron pigment under wood-ash glaze
  • 15.8 x 14.7 x 11.1 cm
  • 1075-1250, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge
  • S1996.154.1

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) Figure of bird with stippled lines from head to tail and around breast, perched on conical stand (cover?). Light glazed.

2. (Louise Cort, 7 June 1999) That both elements of this pastiche are known Khmer forms strongly indicates that both sherds came from kiln sites in Ban Kruat and vicinity, Buriram Province, that were bought up by dealers in the early 1970s and used to assemble "whole" pieces for the unsuspecting market.

3. (Louise Cort, 7 June 1999) The stippling used to outline the details of the bird is unusual, but it is also found used in a similar manner on a green-glazed elephant head sherd said to have been found at a Buriram kiln site (Natthaphat 1989, 79). The stippling is perhaps related to a silver-working technique.

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

4. (Louise Cort, 8 June 1999) The double row of stipples used to outline the details on this bird-shaped vessel bears a resemblance to the detailing on the conch-shaped vessel (S1996.168).

The National Museum, Phnom Penh, owns a brown-glazed pot in the shape of a parrot that was excavated in Siem Reap in 1928 (accession number H 569, h. 7.8 cm, l. 14.5 cm).  I saw it in the museum storage in February this year. The bird's "face" is outlined with a double incised line filled with a single line of stippling.

5. (Louise Cort, 9 June 1999) Double lines of stippling, enclosed by parallel incised lines, also appear in the decoration of a green-glazed elephant-shaped lime pot dated to the Jayavarman VI period (1080–1107), in the Conservation d'Angkor (Brown 1988, pl. XVI-d).

Brown, Roxanna M. 1988. The Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification. 2nd ed. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

6. (Louise Cort, 10 June 1999) The rabbit-shaped vessel appears to be entirely hand modeled, whereas the Hauge vessel (S1996.169) is 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).

7. (Bruce Young, 16 November 1999)  This object and S1996.154.2 were accessioned into the collection glued together as an assembled object, S1996.154.  They were later separated and given their present, separate accession numbers.

8. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Changed Date from 11th-13th century to 1075-1250, following Desbat's revised chronology based on excavations in the Angkor area over the past two decades (Desbat 2011, 26). Evidence for green-glazed Buriram-type bowls (distinguished by the formation of the base) at Angkor-area sites begins in the late 12th century but may date to the beginning of the 12th century, coinciding with the end of production of green-glazed "Kulen" wares in the Angkor area (Desbat 2011, 15-16).

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

9. (Louise Cort, 22 January 2017) The bird has a finished hold in its head, as if to insert a crest of feathres. The remaining form of the broken beak and tail suggest a peacock. Changed Title from Figure of a bird to Figure of a peacock.

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