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

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Baluster-form bottle

  • Earthenware or underfired stoneware with traces of white coating (possibly underfired wood-ash glaze)
  • 15.2 x 10.4 cm
  • 1075-1250, Angkor period
  • Origin: Cambodia or Northeast Thailand
  • Gift of Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S1996.183

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) Baluster-form small vase with flaring mouth, of unglazed red clay;  lines incised around shoulder and neck.

2. (Louise Cort, 18 January 1999) A measured drawing of this vessel was prepared by Sumida Tokiko on 11–12 November 1997 as part of the Nara National Research Institute for Cultural Properties survey of the Hauge collection of Khmer ceramics. 
    
This stoneware bottle is red in color because it was underfired; the white areas are remaining traces of glaze that dissolved over time.  Bottles of related shapes were found at the village of Ban Non Sawang in Prakonchai District, Buriram Province (Natthaphat 1989, 75). One of those vessels is underfired and red.  (It also bears a mark on the base composed of incised overlapping straight lines, typical of pots made at kiln sites on the Kulen plateau and elsewhere east of Angkor, suggesting that this bottle was brought from there.  The other vessel is closely in shape to the Sackler bottle, with more rounded bodu and a horizontal line incised just above the widest diameter; it may be a somewhat later product of the Buriram kilns.)  Both bottles bear holes punched forcefully in the shoulder at the widest point, suggesting that they might have been used for a ritual, then discarded.  (Ban Non Sawang is not listed as the location of a kiln site, although there are numerous kiln sites in the vicinity (Natthaphat 1990, 232).

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

Natthaphat Chanthawit. 1990. "Ancient Kiln Sites in Thailand". Pp. 230–243 in Ancient Ceramic Kiln Technology in Asia, edited by Ho Chuimei. Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, University of Hong Kong.

3. (Louise Cort, 18 December 2003) This bottle with its distinctive "swollen" neck emphasize by an elaborate band of horizontal ornamentation is related to a type of bottle with the same neck but a squat, carinated body resting on a wide, flat base. Bottles of that type, often glazed with ash glaze, are found in widespread locations representing sites of use, possibly in association with rituals:

(1) an unglazed stoneware version of this shape excavated from the 11th century Khmer temple Prasat Ban Phluang, Surin Province, south of Surin City near the Cambodian border (Childress and Brown 1978, 68).

(2) a "white-glazed" bottle found in Sukhothai Province, seemingly of the same shape but a smaller size (no dimensions given) (Phasook ca. 2002, 99). This bottle is also illustrated in color in Natthaphat 1989, 58.

(3) an ash-glazed bottle with lost rim found at the ancient city of Phrarod, or Srimahasot, Pranat Nikhom Dictrict, Chonburi Province (Natthapatra 1992, 102).  

A bottle of this shape bearing thin, yellowish ash glaze, with lost neck and rim (remainder height 19.0 cm; the intact vessel might have measured around 30 cm), in the Nakamura collection in the Machida City Museum, has a clay body flecked with dark imperfections typical of the relatively early Khmer stoneware body associated with "lie d vin" ware. The bottle is dated 10th–11th century. (Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan 1995, no. 7).

The elaborately ornamented bottle, S1997.133, is fundamentally of the same shape of neck as this bottle, and has a carinated shoulder but a different base.

Childress, Vance, and Roxanna Brown. 1978. "Khmer Ceramics at Prasat Ban Phluang." Arts of Asia 8(1): 66–73.

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.

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

Natthaphatra Chanthawit. 1992. "Ancient Ceramic Chonburi." Sinlapākǭn (The Silpakorn Journal) 35(2): 103–125.

Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan (Machida City Museum), ed. 1995. Kumeeru no yakimono [Khmer ceramics], Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan zuroku 93. Machida: Machida Shiritsu Hakubutsukan.

4. (Louise Cort, 29 November 2001) A measured drawing of this vessel was prepared by Miyata Etsuko in July 2000, while she was in Washington on a Short-term Visitor Grant with my sponsorship.  She sent the final ink tracing to me in September this year.

5. (Louise Cort, 18 December 2003) Although at first I assumed this was an underfired stoneware bottle, close examination in the company of Dr. Pamela Vandiver seemed to reveal that it was instead earthenware that had been coated with a while slip that had partially washed off. I published the piece that way in Asian Traditions in Clay (2000, 97, fig. 5), but I still feel uncertain about the proper identification of the material.

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.  

6. (Louise Cort, 28 December 2004) Changed title from Baluster-form Vase to Bottle. changed Medium from Earthenware to Earthenware or underfired stoneware.

7. (Louise Cort, 27 October 2005) According to Cambodian archaeologist Chhay Visoth, the Khmer term for this bottle shape is kaam.

8. (Louise Cort, 5 October 2007) Sok Keo Sovannara suggests that this vessel might be known by the term nu. It is similar to the vessel designated in inscriptions by the Sanskrit term kusumbha or Khmer term kumbhah (modern Khmer ka-am), meaning a water jar.

9. (Louise Cort, 16 January 2017) Desbat's revised chronology based on excavations in the Angkor area over the past two decades dates Buriram-type green-glazed vessels to 1075-1250 (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.


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