Lime-paste pot with bail handle and molded decoration

  • Stoneware with copper-green alkali-silicate glaze
  • 15.5 x 13.6 cm
  • Quang Duc ware
  • 18th-mid 20th century, Restored Later Le, Tay Son, or Nguyen dynasty
  • Origin: Phu Yen province, Central Vietnam
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.160

Description

Lime pot of compressed globular form with a round hole on shoulder, high foot, flat base with shell scars, and a broad overhead stripe handle. Some lime residue inside the pot.
Clay: grey stoneware.
Glaze: mottled turquoise and red (copper) glaze, glossy, translucent; footring unglazed.
Decoration: a moulded floral rosette at central top of the lime pot, appendages attached at both ends of the handle, some curly strokes or inscriptions inscribed on both sides of the handle.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, April 29, 2003) David Rehfuss (collector of Vietnamese ceramics and president of the Washington Oriental Ceramic Group, WOCG) showed me a photograph from a two-week study tour to Vietnam in October-November 1999, organized by the Asian Ceramics Research Organization, ACRO. The photograph shows a gourd-shaped bottle and a lime pot with broken handle, coated with plenty of sea shells. They show similar glazing technique as this vessel. These 'sea-shell glazed wares' were products of Tuy Hoa, capital township of Phu Yen province in Central Vietnam. (Tuy Hoa Town is situated on the banks of the mouth of the Da Rang River.)

I quote David's notes:

"Phu Yen Province in Central Vietnam has made ceramics with sea shells from the 18th century until 1945. The addition of calcium makes a very fine shiny glaze, a Chinese technique imported from South China. Phu Yen province is on the coast, south of Binh Dinh province. Kiln was found along a river (possibly Da Rang River). The kiln site is well known. Professor Trinh Cao Truong (an archaeologist working for the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi, North Vietnam) said that shells were put in kiln chamber for glaze-making. Quang Nam province and Phu Yen province are two centers making 'sea-shell' glazed large jars, yet it is the most common product in Phu Yen province. Professor Truong says that there are many examples in the Phu Yen Provincial Museum in Tuy Hoa (the capital township of Phu Yen province)."

2. (Louise Cort, 12 June 2003) The collector Jochen May owns an "Oc Eo" bowl with impressed shell marks, which I saw on a visit to his home in Neustadt, Germany, in September 1998.

3. (Louise Cort, 22 August 2003) A green-glazed lime pot of similar design is published as 18th century in Stevenson and Guy eds. 1997, pl. 417.

Stevenson, John, and John Guy, eds. 1997. Vietnamese Ceramics, A Separate Tradition. Chicago: Art Media Resources.

4. (Louise Cort, 19 January 2006) The copper-green glaze suggests a connection to Shiwan (Shekwan) ceramics from Guangdong province.

5. (Louise Cort, 10 February 2007) Using XRF analysis, Blythe McCarthy determined that the turquoise glaze is colored by copper. Only trace amounts of lead were found, indicating that it is an alkali-silicate glaze. It has a high amount of zinc, suggesting that the copper source may have been recycled brass. Areas of red are copper red caused by reduction of the copper.

6. (Louise Cort, 31 May 2007) The Khanh Hoa Museum, Nha Trang, owns many ceramics recovered from the site of Cam Hai Tay, near Cam Ranh, which yields materials from the 18th–20th century. A lime paste pot of this type is among them.

7. (Louise Cort, 2 June 2007) The Phu Yen Museum, Tuy Hoa, owns a lime paste pot of this type with a brownish surface and shells adhering to its slightly concave base.  It also owns a small gourd shaped bottle with greenish glaze and overall shell scars and a round bottle with shiny black surface and shell scars (diam base 9.5 cm; acc no 1066).

At this museum, all unglazed stoneware was attributed to the Quang Duc kiln site in Tuy An district, 30 kilometers north of Tuy Hoa. During a visit to the kiln on 3 June, we were told by an elderly potter (age 83), that Cham potters had worked there 500 years ago; Chinese potters from Chaozhou, Guangdong province, were here in the 17th–18th century, for three generations only; ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) potters came three hundred years ago, in the 18th century, from Binh Dinh. Two workshops still operate. According to museum staff, the products used to be shipped by coastal boat south to Nha Trang and north to Binh Dinh province. The elderly potter also spoke of making flower pots to send by boat to Hue.

The kilns also made jars; they were fired in the front of the kiln, where they would become hard, while roof tiles and other products were fired at the back. Jars were made from a green clay, to which no sand was added, while tiles and other soft wares were made from black clay. Both men and women made jars, but in the case of very large ones, women shaped while men turned the wheel. The jars were fired in huge kilns four times the size of the ones presently in use, about 2 meters high at the tallest point within the chamber. The kilns had two fireboxes and two low chimneys about 50 cm tall. Those kilns were in use until the American war (when they were damaged or destroyed by bombing). The various sizes of jars were also understood as standard measures. People came from the mountains to buy then, and local Kinh people took jars into the mountains to trade.

The potter told us he used to use shells in the kiln firing, scattering them between unglazed vessels so they would not stick. Any kind of sea shell (from the beach 4–5 kilometers away) could be used. The shells "became water" and added color to the ceramics.

Meanwhile, south of Tuy Hoa, in Hoa Vinh commune, Tuy Dong district, ethnic Vietnamese (Kinh) potters make earthenware. The potters are women. They have been here seven generations (roughly 140–150 years). The vessel forms include bowls and small jars. Round-bottom cooking pots are shaped on a turntable-like wheel, by a process of coiling onto a flat base, throwing, then scraping inside and outside with a ring-shaped bamboo tool. These pots resemble the pots recovered from a shipwreck site off Vung Tau, together with cylindrical stoneware jars with rounded walls (note above).

8. (Louise Cort, 4 June 2007) The Binh Dinh Provincial Museum, Quy Nhon, exhibited one copper-green glazed and one copper-red glazed lime pot of this type in a case of artifacts associated with the Go Cay May kiln site in Nhon My, An Nhon, dated 13th–15th century. The curator late confirmed, however, that the "Cham" potters at Go Cay me did not use colored glazes. Probably these artifacts were surface finds from the vicinity of the kiln. The lime pots may have been products of the Tuy Hoa or related kilns in Phu Yen province.

9. (Louise Cort, 5 June 2007) The Quang Ngai Provincial Museum, Quang Ngai, owned four lime pots of this type, among nine that had been found in Phu Lonh village, Duc Pho district (south along the coast toward the provincial border with Binh Dinh). Four others were Chinese vessels with thin, even copper-green glaze. The ninth pot, with copper-green glaze that had turned red in places, resembled Phu Yen lime pots but had a receded base inside a low footrim.

10. (Louise Cort, 7 June 2007) Three staff members of the Hoi An Municipal Museum, Quang Nam, commented that they found many lime pots of this type in Hoi An.

11. (Louise Cort, 14 June 2007) According to Dr. Nguyen Dinh Chien, Museum of Vietnamese History, Hanoi, this lime pot probably dates to the 19th century.

12. (Louise Cort, 18 July 2016) A jar from this kiln is in the collection of the National Museum of Natural History, Anthropology Collection, E404544. It has two rows of bosses circling the shoulder beneath an uneven dark green translucent glaze similar to that on the bottle S2005.156. Shell scars appear on the flat base. The jar was part of a large group of Asian objects given to the NMNH by the Philadelphia Trade and Convention Center. Pending further research in the NMNH archives, it is possible that this jar and the rest of the collection could have come from the Philadelphia Commercial Museum, a component of the Center, established through purchase of items remaining from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, opened in a permanent building in 1899, and closed in 1994.

According to the Thanh Nien News, 23 March 2015 (accessed online), the potter with whom we had spoken, Nguyen Trinh (see Note 7), died in early 2014.

Changed Origin from Tuy Hoa to Quang Duc village; to Ware added Quang Duc ware.


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