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

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  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 19.5 x 14.5 cm
  • 19th-mid 20th century, Nguyen dynasty
  • Origin: Northern Vietnam
  • Provenance: Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.115


Jar with ovoid body, long neck, flared mouth and flat base.
Clay: unglazed grey stoneware, dark brown on surface.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: none.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, April 29, 2003) This jar has a similar shape as an unglazed brown stoneware which was found in Bac Thai province, north Vietnam, and used for holding tea leaves or fish sauce (Cort 1994, 54, fig. 14).

Cort, Louise Allison. 1994. "In Search of Ceramics in Vietnam." Asian Art and Culture VII(1): 44–61.

2. (Louise Cort, 14 July 2006) According to Dr. Lu Hung and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hong Mai, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, this jar is definitely Vietnamese. When Dr. Hung was growing up in a village in northern Vietnam, there was a similar jar in his house, although the shape was fatter. Mrs. Mai's grandfather (her mother's father, living in Ha Tay province) used such a jar to prepare ‘mam cua’, a watery sauce made of crabs or shrimp and salt. The jar would be buried for six months to a year. When the sauce was ready, her grandfather would send it to her family, living in the interior in Son La province.

‘Mam tom’ shrimp paste and ‘mam cua’ sauce could be prepared in any size of jar. ‘Mam ca’ fish paste was prepared from a mixture of fish and shrimp in a large, wide-mouthed jar. The liquid that seeped from this mixture was ‘nuoc mam’. 

With regard to where the jar might have been made, Mrs. Mai did not think it was a product of Mong Cai (cf. S2005.114).

3. (Louise Cort, 22 Dec 2014) According to archaeologists Kikuchi Sei'ichi and Abe Yuriko, this bottle could have been made either in north or in central Vietnam. They speculated on whether it might have been made at Tho Ha or Thanh Hoa.

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