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

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Jar with combed and applied decoration

  • Stoneware with thin iron wash and slight accumulation of fly-ash glaze
  • 30.5 x 25.5 cm
  • 14th-17th century, Tran, Later Le, Mac or Restored Later Le dynasty
  • Origin: Central Vietnam
  • Provenance: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.137


Jar of cylindrical form with broad shoulder tapering toward the flat base, short neck narrowing to the mouth.
Clay: medium-grey stoneware.
Glaze: thin iron wash and slight accumulation of fly-ash glaze.
Decoration: two grooves insided into neck (possibly using combing tool); two raised ridges applied to shoulder, alternating with bands of undulating combing.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 11 October 2005) Comments from Morimoto Asako, archaeologist specializing in Vietnamese and Chinese ceramics recovered from Hakata (Fukuoka), Short-term Visitor to study the Hauge collection:

What is the crust below the rim? It should be investigated to see whether it would be possible to identify the original contents.

She initially identified this jar and S2005.138, a smaller vessel in the same ware, as from Northern Vietnam. Subsequently she noticed that the rim form is of a characteristic Central Vietnam type, like that of the vessels known in Japan as kiridame (see S2005.134–135). The upright neck is slightly concave on the internal surface, and the rim is flat.

The vessel was coated with a thin iron wash. Another jar of the same size appears to have been stacked for firing on the rim of this one, resulting in a change of color where it covered the clay surface of this jar.

White stones in the clay. The clay body is similar to that of S2005.179, about which she commented: The clay body is close to that used for the cylindrical nuoc mam vessels (S2004.195–211). If Vietnamese, it is probably from the south (where she did not survey as intensively) rather than the center or north (where she looked closely at unglazed stoneware production).

2. (Louise Cort, 16 October 2005) Based on the contextual date for a jar like the smaller jar (S2005.138) used in Japan as a tea utensil, this jar may be given a provisional date of 16th–17th century.

3. (Louise Cort, 18 October 2005) Preparing for her presentation to the Washington Oriental Ceramic Group, Morimoto Asako grouped S2005.134–135 and 137–138 as related wares in terms of clay body. S2005.134 and 135 are more specifically identified as coming from the My Xuyen kilns, north of Hue.

4. (Louise Cort, 12 July 2006) According to Dr. Luu Hung and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hong Mai, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, this is the first time they have seen this type of neck, although the form and the design are like those of jars made in north Vietnam. Dr. Luu Hung suggested that this might be from central or southern Vietnam. The vessel color is pale in the interior, an indication that it was stacked for firing.

5. (Louise Cort, 2 September 2006) A wide-mouthed (d. 25.2 cm) unglazed stoneware jar of related form, broader and squatter but with three ridges circling the shoulder, alternating with bands of combing, was excavated from the Sakaimachi site in Nagasaki (Tokyo-to Edo Tokyo Hakubutsukan ed. 1996, 89, fig. 2-45). The jar is dated second half of the 16th or 17th century. The location of the site is shown on a map on p. 80.

Tokyo-to Edo-Tokyo Hakubutsukan (Tokyo Metropolitan Edo-Tokyo Museum), ed. 1996. Horidasareta toshi: Edo, Nagasaki, Amusuterudamu, Rondon, Nyū Yōku (Unearthed Cities: Edo, Nagasaki, Amsterdam, London, New York). Tokyo: Tokyo-to Rekishi Bunka Zaidan.   

6. (Louise Cort, 7 September 2006) A jar of this type (H. 29.9 cm, d. 29.5 cm) was excavated at the burial site of Lobang Kudih, Bakong, which yielded objects generally dating to the 14th-16th century, and is in the collection of the Sarawak Museum, Kuching, Malaysia. Eine Moore classified it in the "wavy-line jar" group, pointed out it was the only jar of this type to have been found in an excavation, and observed of this category, "These jars have a rather un-Chinese 'feel' about them and one is tempted to suggest the much-abused 'Indo-Chinese' provenance" (Moore 1970, 62–63, pl. 14).

Moore, Eine. 1970. "A Suggested Classification of Stonewares of Martabani Type." The Sarawak Museum Journal XVIII(36–37): 1–78, pls. 1–21.

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