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

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Kendi

  • Earthenware with red and white slip and black pigment
  • 16 x 17.5 x 14 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Sawankhalok kilns, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Provenance: Ayutthaya, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Sarah M. Bekker
  • S2005.1

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 4 September 2006) Two stoneware bottles with elongated necks recovered from the Ko Kradat shipwreck (1979) are said to be products of the Sawankhalok (Si Satchanalai) kilns and to date to the mid-16th century (Sāyan et al. eds. 1990, 24, 49–50, no. 29–30). The bottles are decorated with a broad horizontal band of iron pigment at the shoulder framed by pairs of narrow stripes. Below, three narrow stripes form the lower frame for a wide band of the light-colored body, on which a nonrepresentational design is brushed repeatedly using the iron pigment.

Three bottles are published in Green et al. 1981, 11, Type 4 and 4B.

This earthenware kendi appears to use red and white slips to imitate the design format of Si Satchanalai (or possibly Sukhothai) iron-decorated stoneware. This resemblance confirms a 16th century date for the earthenware kendi.

Changed Date from 16th–18th century to 16th century.

Sāyan Phraichānčhit (Sayan Prishanchit), Siriphan Yapsanthīa (Siriphan Yapsanthea), and 'Atcharā Khǣngsārikit, eds. 1990. Khrư̄angthūaičhāk thalē (Ceramics from the Gulf of Thailand). Vol. 2, Bōrānnakhadī sī khrām (Underwater Archaeology in Thailand). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Green, Jeremy, Rosemary Harper, and Sayan Prishanchittara. 1981. The Excavation of the Ko Kradat Wreck site Thailand 1979–1980. Perth: Department of Maritime Archaeology, Western Australia Museum.

2. (Louise Cort, 15 January 2007) An earthenware kendi with painted decoration of this type, but with a dish mouth, is published in a small undated pamphlet, Thai Sangalok Ware in Osothsapha, (n.d., 7, center left).

N.d. Thai Sangalok Ware in Osothsapha. Teck Heng Yoo Co., Ltd. Collection. n.p.

3. (Louise Cort, 18 January 2007) All the northern Vietnamese kendis from Chu Dau recovered from the Hoi An shipwreck and dated to late 15th (or early 16th) century had this type of elongated, tapered mammiform spout, and the necks were topped by flat disks and low raised lips—and also fitted with small caps (Butterfields ed. 2000, 11–3 and lots 48–64).

Butterfields. 2000. Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard. 2 vols. San Francisco and Los Angeles: Butterfields.  

4. (Louise Cort, 9 January 2008) According to information collected by Leedom Lefferts on 31 January 2007 at the National Museum in Ayutthaya, the Thai term for kendi is khon thoo.

According to Australian anthropologist Carol Warren, the Balinese word for this vessel shape is caratan (pronounced "charatan").

5. (Louise Cort, 8 March 2008) "Perhaps the earthenware item most characteristic of medieval Buddhist sites in Myanmar is the sprinkler pot, or kendi….These are found across South and Southeast Asia, generally attributed to the first and early second millennia A.D., from Pakistan to Laos and down the Malay peninsula to Java, though it is only in the Buddhist countries that their function appears to focus on ritual libration. Buddhist cosmology and practice are bound up with the ritual pouring of water, reflecting the story of how Buddha, at the moment of his enlightenment, was able to call on the water he had poured in previous lives to witness his good deeds to come back and wash away the forces of evil" (Hudson et al 2001, 58 [references omitted]).

Hudson, Bob, Nyein Lwin, and Win Maung (Tanpawady). 2001. "The Origins of Bagan: New Dates and Old Inhabitants." Asian Perspectives 40(1): 48–74.

6. (Louise Cort, 13 March 2008) A painted earthenware kendi of this type, but with a dish-shaped mouth, is said to have been collected from "Sukhothai" (presumably the city, not the province). It is dated to the sixteenth century (Ho 1995, fig. 7).

Ho Chuimei. 1995. "Intercultural Influence between China and South East Asia as seen in Historical Ceramics". Pp. 118–140 in South East Asian and China: Art, Interaction and Commerce, edited by Rosemary Scott and John Guy. Colloquies on Art and Archaeology in Asia no. 17. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

7. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, observed that the horizontal lines were painted on the body first (using a wheel to spin the vessel) before the spout was stuck on.


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