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

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Kendi

  • Earthenware with smoke-blackened matte surface
  • 22 x 23 x 17 cm
  • 16th-17th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: North-central Thailand
  • Provenance: Ayutthaya, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Sarah M. Bekker
  • S2005.2

Description

Kendi.
Clay: fine-grained earthenware, wheel thrown.
Glaze: none. Surface was blackened by

Curatorial Remarks

1. (George Williams, research assistant, 30 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 16th–18th century to 16th–17th century.

2. (Louise Cort, 9 January 2008) According to information collected by Leedom Lefferts on 31 January 2007 at the National Museum in Ayutthaya, the Thai term for kendi is khon thoo.

According to Australian anthropologist Carol Warren, the Balinese word for this vessel shape is caratan (pronounced "charatan").

3. (Louise Cort, 8 March 2008) "Perhaps the earthenware item most characteristic of medieval Buddhist sites in Myanmar is the sprinkler pot, or kendi….These are found across South and Southeast Asia, generally attributed to the first and early second millennia A.D., from Pakistan to Laos and down the Malay peninsula to Java, though it is only in the Buddhist countries that their function appears to focus on ritual libration. Buddhist cosmology and practice are bound up with the ritual pouring of water, reflecting the story of how Buddha, at the moment of his enlightenment, was able to call on the water he had poured in previous lives to witness his good deeds to come back and wash away the forces of evil" (Hudson et al 2001, 58 [references omitted]).

Hudson, Bob, Nyein Lwin, and Win Maung (Tanpawady). 2001. "The Origins of Bagan: New Dates and Old Inhabitants." Asian Perspectives 40(1): 48–74.

4. (Louise Cort, 14 March 2008) According to archaeologist Don Hein, who has worked on the Sawankhalok kiln complex, the only place he knows that produced (reduced) black earthenware is Ban Nong O (the continuation northwards of Ban Ko Noi). The fabric of BNO is very distinctive.

5. (Louise Cort, 21 April 2014) Following Don Hein's comments (note 4), changed Origin from Probably North-central Thailand to North-central Thailand.


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