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

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Jar with four vertical lugs and combed decoration

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 53.6 x 42.8 cm
  • 18th-mid 20th century, Restored Later Le, Tay Son, or Nguyen dynasty
  • Origin: Perhaps Binh Dinh province, Central Vietnam
  • Provenance: Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City), Vietnam
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.155


Clay: brown stoneware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: alternating rowns combed bands and hatchmarks around the shoulder, between the lugs.

Published References

1. Dupoizat, Marie-France. 1988. “Recherches sur les Jarres en Asie du Sud-Est.” Ph.D. Thesis, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris: 429–430.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 19 July 2002) This jar is unglazed and very heavy for its size.

2. (Louise Cort, 30 June 2003) Mr. Tran Ky Phuong, independent researcher, Da Nang, identified this jar as made for Kinh (ethnic Vietnamese customers) (in contrast to S2005.171 and 175, made for upland ethnic minorities) and made for use in the household for keeping fish sauce (nuoc mam) or by people living on a boat for storing fresh water. Mr. Ky says that jars like this were made at local kilns throughout central Vietnam, as far south as Bien Hoa. He associated such jars especially with Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces.
This size of jar might be used for preparing a household supply of nuoc mam, but commercial production is done in large wooden vats.

3. (Louise Cort, 28 January 2005) Marie-France Dupoizat classified this jar (her H7) among her "Cham jars" (Dupoizat 1988, 429–430). She pointed out that it was heavy for its size (it weighed 16.5 kg). She recorded that the Hauges had been told that it had come from Binh Dinh Province (site of the old Cham capital of Vijaya). She identified it (based on the Hauges' identification?) as Cham, 12–13th century.

She pointed out a longstanding oral tradition among the ethnic minorities living in the uplands that certain jars were "Cham" (ibid., 427) and were highly valued. She commented, "It seems possible that these jars had been produced by the Chams: for one, they come for the most part from the region of Binh Dinh, and they have a style that is neither Chinese nor Vietnamese. The remarkable Khmer ceramics are known; could it not be possible to argue that the Cham art, influenced by the Khmers, could have been able to produce ceramics—notably these jars—of which the production is understood to date to the 12th through 15th centuries? At Chau-re, six kilometers from Phan Rang, in the province of Binh Thuan, O. Janse recovered, among the fragments of Chinese ceramics dating from Tang through Ming, some sherds of 'red native pottery' for which he suggested a Cham attribution" (ibid., 428).

Dupoizat, Marie-France. 1988. "Recherches sur les Jarres en Asie du Sud-Est". Ph.D. Thesis, L'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris.

4. (Louise Cort, 14 October 2005) Archaeologist and ceramic specialist Morimoto Asako, Fukuoka, observed that the decoration of horizontal lines filled with diagonal "jabbed" comb marks suggests a relationship between this jar and the small round jars in the group S2004.213–223. This jar also would appear to come from Central Vietnam.

5. (Louise Cort, 10 January 2006) To Origin added Said to come from Binh Dinh province. To Provenance added Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City).

6. (Louise Cort, 18 February 2006) According to Dr. Phu, a Cham curator at the History Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, to whom I showed photographs of this group of jars in February, 1998, they were used by the Giarai and the Churu, ethnic groups living in the central highlands of Vietnam.

7. (Louise Cort, 7 September 2006) A rounder, squatter jar of this type (h. 35.0 cm, d. 38.5 cm) is in the collection of the Sarawak Museum, Kuching, Malaysia. Eine Moore classified it in the "wavy-line jar" group 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-b).

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

8. (Louise Cort, 26 January 2007) A jar of this general ovoid shape, with bands of incised decoration and four small lugs just below the rounded lip, was photographed in use holding drinking water in the courtyard of a house in Hoi An by Kikuchi Seiichi and said to have been a type made until recently in the Phuoc Tich pottery in Hue province (Kikuchi and Abe 1997, 188, fig. e).

Kikuchi Seiichi, and Abe Yuriko. 1997. "Betonamu yakishime tōki no bunrui to seisaku gihō [Classification and production techniques of Vietnamese unglazed stoneware]." Betonamu no Nihonmachi—Hoi An no kōkogaku chōsa [A Japanese Town in Vietnam—Archaeological investigations of Hoi An]. Shōwa Joshi Daigaku Kokusai Bunka Kenkyūjo kiyō (Showa Women's University Institute of International Culture Bulletin) 4: 183–191 (Chapter 7, part 2).

9. (Louise Cort, 27 May 2007) An unglazed jar of this general type is in the collection of the Binh Duong Museum in Thu Dau Mot, on view among pots dated to the 16th–17th centuries collected along—or within—the Dong Nai River. The jar (h. 46–47 cm) has a proportionately wider mouth, with a thicker rolled rim. Three raised ridges are applied below the neck and the four triangular lugs (with wide upper ends and pointed lower tips, and with vertical fluting) are applied over them. Wavy combing is applied between the ridges, and below the ridges, on the shoulder, three bands of straight combing frame two bands of wavy combing.

Other pots on view in this group included a tall, smooth cylindrical jar with slightly curving walls and four small lugs applied just below the rim over incised lines (resembling S2004.211 and S2005.178); two shorter, wider cylindrical jars with slightly curving slides and vertical lugs applied over incised lines at mid-shoulder (resembling S2004.206 and 208); a pot resembling S2005.138 but without lugs; and a cylindrical wide-mouthed pot with a band of jabbed decor using a four-toothed comb resembling the decoration on the round jar S2005.142.

10. (Louise Cort, 31 May 2007) A jar of this general shape and size (h. 47.5 cm) in the collection of the Khanh Hoa Museum, Nha Trang, bears three raised ridges around the shoulder below the low, rolled rim, interspersed with bands of wavy combing. Below the lowest ridge, three bands of straight combing frame two more bands of wavy combing. The jar is broken, as is the one remaining lug, but it is placed over the ridges and appears similar in shape to the lugs on this jar. The jar is said to have come from Vinh Yen, in Van Ninh district, 90 kilometers to the north of Nha Trang.

Another jar of this type in the storeroom, intact (h. 44.0 cm, diam. mouth 19–21 cm, diam. base 23.0 cm), with triangular lugs, wide at the top and ending below in a "dot," is said to have been recovered from the riverbed at Lu Cam, 5 km west of Nha Trang. Lu Cam appears to have been a port area from the 17th through the 20th century. Kilns also operated there beginning in the 19th century, and their products "used to be famous," according to the curators.

By comparison, this jar would appear to be a newer, simplified version of this basic model.

11. (Louise Cort, 7 June 2007) Three staff members of the Hoi An Municipal Museum, Quang Nam, commented that they had found jars like this in Hoi An. They were still used by people living here.

12. (Louise Cort, 8 June 2007) The Archaeology Museum in Hue displayed a large jar of this general shape (h 41 cm, diam. 25.0 cm, diam. mouth 17.0 cm; registration number TD.97.M6:01). The jar had an unglazed, charcoal gray surface. On the shoulder just below the rolled rim, four vertical ridged lugs were placed over a band of three relief ridges framing two rows of undulating combing. Below the lowest ridge ran a wide band of straight combing. The jar was recovered in December 1997 from the Binh An site in Loc Vinh commune, Phu Loc district. The site was said to date to the 16th–19th century.

13. (Louise Cort, 14 June 2007) Dr. Nguyen Dinh Chien, Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi, suggests a date of 19th century for this jar.

14. (Louise Cort, 1 October 2008) Changed Origin to Central Vietnam, perhaps Binh Dinh province (see notes 3 and 5).

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