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

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Potter's anvil

  • Earthenware with red pigment
  • 5.9 x 5.8 cm
  • Possibly Ban Chiang culture
  • 1st millennium BCE, Prehistoric period
  • Origin: Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.186


Anvil with impressed cord marking. Traces of red pigment on handle.
Clay: Unglazed earthenware.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 1 April 2005) "Oc Eo."

2. (Louise Cort, 4 September 2006) The impressed "cord markings" indicate that a wooden paddle wrapped with fine twisted cordage was used to shape the anvil. Such a paddle would then have been used in conjunction with the anvil for forming earthenware.

3. (Louise Cort, 7 January 2007) Anvils excavated from Ban Chiang, in Northeast Thailand, show more distinct separation between the mushroom-shaped heads and long handles that are considerably smaller in diameter than the heads (White 1982, 76, figs. 86–89).

White, Joyce C. 1982. Ban Chiang: Discovery of a Lost Bronze Age. Philadelphia and Washington: University Museum, University of Pennsylvania Press and Smithsonian Institution.

4. (George Williams, research assistant, 29 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 6th–11th century to 3rd–6th century.

5. (Louise Cort, 3 April 2007) According to my notes from 24 Jan 2003, when we collected this anvil from the Hauges' home, it and S2005.187 were in a box of miscellaneous objects on a shelf in rear room of the basement of the Hauges' "Southeast Asia house." Bud does not recall where he acquired it, but thinks most likely in Thailand. Victor did not acquire any anvils from Northeast Thailand and thinks this is possibly from Central Thailand. Thus my recollection that the anvils were part of the "Oc Eo" group seems to have been mistaken.

6. (Louise Cort, 23 May 2007) Anvils from Oc Eo viewed at the Museum of Vietnamese History, Ho Chi Minh City, have textured faces—sometimes with incised concentric circles. This adds to the likelihood that the two anvils in the Hauge collection do not belong to the Oc Eo culture.

7. (Louise Cort, 3 October 2008) It seems likely that the Hauges acquired this anvil from Thailand, and that it came from a prehistoric context.

8. (Louise Cort, 22 May 2009) The overall impressions of cord marking and the application of white slip and red pigment seem to link this potter's tool to prehistoric pots from Northeast Thailand S1998.121, S1998.125, S2004.13, and S2004.15. (S2004.50 has very fine cord-marking and red pigment, but no white slip.)

On the basis of the association of some of the above vessels to the Ban Chiang Middle Period, 1000–300 B. C. E., to Date added First millennium B. C. E. Added Possibly Ban Chiang culture.

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