Vessel with round bottom and domed lid

  • Earthenware with red pigment
  • 11.5 x 9.5 cm
  • Oc Eo culture
  • 3rd-6th century, Pre-Angkor period
  • Origin: Mekong River Delta, Southern Vietnam
  • Provenance: Mekong River Delta, Southern Vietnam
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2004.105a-b

Description

Small round-bodied vessel with inverted rim and domed lid with handle. Traces of decoration on vessel body of thin parallel lines, painted with red pigment, running diagonally in one direction on the rim (short lines) and diagonally in the opposite direction on the body (long lines).

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 11 July 2002) The Hauges acquired this vessel as "Oc Eo."

2. (Louise Cort, 13 May 2005) The Hauges owned a copy of Malleret's 1960 publication on Oc Eo and employed it to confirm the pieces they acquired as "Oc Eo culture." It is important to note that Malleret acquired all his ceramic samples, except those that he excavated from Oc Eo, as surface finds located in the course of general surveys of other sites (Malleret 1960, 92).

Malleret summarized his vision of Oc Eo culture ceramics drawn from such surveys: "Ceramics held a considerable role in the material life of the ancient inhabitants of the Transbassac. Judging from the enormous mass of fragments that lie scattered under the sun in Oc Eo and occur in compact sheets at certain levels, one is inclined to think that the ceramic industry occupied an important place among their activities. In fact, it seems that one was in the presence of a city whose population had been dense and had deposited enormous accumulations of debris over several centuries. But pottery was not mixed solely into the domestic aspect, where it was manifest as stoves, as cooking pots, as diverse containers, as lamps, as rattles for infants. It had furnished containers and crucibles for metallurgists, net weights for fishermen, spindle-whorls for the preparation of thread from textile fibers, and perhaps also stamps for impressing patterns onto woven cloth.... It is possible that pottery served numerous additional offices in a commercial setting in a maritime location." He goes on to mention the probable roles of small-mouthed vessels for storage and transport of foodstuffs, including oils and salt; of straight-necked jars for holding liquids and creating an air-tight seal necessary for fermenting fish sauce (nuoc mam); of small, wide-mouthed vessels for domestic storage of materials in the kitchen, as well as for unguents, perfumes, medicines, cosmetics, and rouge (although they were easily portable and could have been commercial items). He proposes that ceramic containers, along with wooden ones, served to transport raw materials and finished products of the important industries of Oc Eo (including gold jewelry, glass and stone beads, bronze and tin metallurgy) (ibid., 92–93). He describes necks of large jars over forty centimeters in diameter, presumably used for storing rainwater (ibid., 94).

Malleret studied 291 whole objects and more than 2000 sherds (787 from systematic excavations). He found five types of earthenware body (ibid., 98–100, analysis in Appendix I, 353–357):
(I) unfired or very low fired, without sand (including crucibles and spindle-whorls);
(II) red clay containing considerable sand and mica, naturally occurring in the clay, which seemingly was used without adding additional temper, formed by hand or on the potter's wheel into fishnet weights, stoves, and lids for cooking pots. Even when the exterior is fired red or gray, the interior may retain the color of ochre earth. Some appear to have been slipped;
(III) red clay with added fine sand temper, possibly derived from ground laterite containing particles of limonite; worked by hand or on the wheel;
(IV) blackish clay containing little sand, blackened by firing in reduction, sometimes with burnished surface, worked by hand or on the wheel, found in the lowest levels beneath the brick monuments at Oc Eo;
(V) fine paste, sometimes hard but usually soft, of homogenous, well-processed texture, variously rose, salmon, gray, or yellowish in color, sometimes appearing to contain temper made from prefired and ground clay, used mainly for special products with a certain "artistic cachet."

In addition, (VI) much higher fired than the previous five types, like stoneware, showing a connection to glazed Khmer stoneware, suggesting a Khmer occupation level at Oc Eo.

Malleret, Louis. 1988. La civilisation matérielle d'Oc-Eo. L'Archéologie du Delta du Mékong, tome 2. Vol. XLIII, Publications d'École Française d'Extrême-Orient. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient.

3. (Louise Cort, 16 May 2005) Malleret (ibid, drawing pl. XXX, T. 33, text p. 154) published a spherical, hand-formed vessel of this type, one of two from the Oc Eo excavation, made of fine-grained earthenware, yellow or rose in color, with a slight demarcation of the shoulder. He noted two similar vessels in the Phnom Penh museum, without provenance (H. 547 and 548).

Malleret, Louis. 1988. La civilisation matérielle d'Oc-Eo. L'Archéologie du Delta du Mékong, tome 2. Vol. XLIII, Publications d'École Française d'Extrême-Orient. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient.


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Thursday, March 26, 2009 | 6:46:36 PM | posted by: Team LOMAP

This also looks either industrial or like a 'beginner's pot'—Patricia Crown (U New Mexico) and some other archaeologists are now studying apprenticeship in the archaeological record, using ceramics from the prehistoric American SW. One can't rule out the possibility that this is a beginner's pot because of its rudimentary construction and the presence of a very unusual lid—for "Oc Eo Culture" at least.

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