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

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Baluster jar

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 54 x 41.4 cm
  • Ban Bang Pun ware
  • 14th-15th century, Sukhothai period or Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Ban Bang Pun kilns, Suphanburi province, West-central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.238

Description

Baluster-shaped jar with tall, broad cylindrical neck, flanged mouth, disc-shaped flat base, and four nubs on shoulder.
Clay: grey stoneware, blackened by reduction firing.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: stamped with a row of pointed designs above incised bands on lower neck; three bands of decoration with bosses, impressed slant lines and jabbed marks on upper shoulder, just above twelve groups of stamped vegetal design and one pointed design on shoulder; incised with inverted lotus panels, combed scallop lines and incsied bands on upper body.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, May 5, 2003) Unglazed stoneware jars of this type with stamped and incised decoration were excavated from the kilns at Bang Pun village, Muang District, Suphanburi province in Central Thailand (Kǭng Bōrānnakhadī Māilēk 9 1988).

Pariwat supposes the Ban Bang Pun kilns began operation before the Ayutthaya period, around the 13th–14th centuries, and were contemporaneous with the early Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai wares (Pariwat and Kritsada 1990, 145, figs. 36–40).

Seven unglazed jars of this type found in the Philippines are categorized as Suphanburi wares dating to the 15th century (Valdes et al. 1992, 172–173, pls. 152–154).

Jars of this type were found in the Turiang shipwreck, a Chinese vessel of the third quarter of the 14th century. It was discovered in the southern part of the South China Sea, off the eastern coast of Malaysia. Among the ceramic finds, there are about 46% Sukhothai, 11% Si Satchanalai, 8% Vietnamese and 35% Chinese. No Chinese or Vietnamese blue and white wares were found (Brown and Sjostrand, 2000, 36–7, pls. 4a–b, fig. 10).

Suphanburi jars were also found in the Royal Nanhai shipwreck (+/-1460) and the Longquan cargo (+/-1400). Both of them are South China Sea type vessels sank in the 15th century off the eastern coast of Malaysia in South China Sea (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 48–51, color pls. 46, 49, fig.31).

A jar of this type was found from a wreck site at the island of Rang Kwian, in Chonburi province in the Gulf of Thailand, together with Chinese coins, ceramics from Thailand, Vietnam and China ...etc. Even though the coins (around 1398) could not confirm accurately the date of this cargo, it was very possibly from the 15th century onwards (Green and Harper 1987, 3(no.4), 6(fig.41)).

Kǭng Bōrānnakhadī Māilēk 9 (Archaeological Unit no. 9). 1988. Lǣng tao phao Bān Bāng Pūn (Survey report of excavation of Ban Bang Pun kilns, Suphan Buri, Thailand). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Pariwat Thammapreechakorn, and Kritsada Pinsri. 1990. Sinlapa khrư̄ang thûai nai Prathēt Thai (Ceramic Art in Thailand). Translated by Sawang Lertrit. Bangkok: Ostospa Co. Ltd.

Valdes, Cynthia O., Kerry Nguyen-Long, and Artemio C. Barbosa. 1992. A Thousand Years of Stoneware in the Philippines. Makati, Metro Manila: Jar Collectors (Philippines) with the support of Eugenio Lopez Foundation Inc. and in cooperation with the National Museum and the Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines.

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2000. Turiang: A Fourteenth–Century Shipwreck in Southeast Asia. Los Angeles: Pacific Asia Museum.

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2001. Maritime Archaeology and Shipwreck Ceramics in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Department of Museums and Antiques.

Green, Jeremy, and Rosemary Harper. 1987. The Maritime Archaeology of Shipwrecks and Ceramics in Southeast Asia. Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No. 4. Fremantle: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.

2. (Louise Cort, 25 August 2004) Japanese archaeologist Miyata Etsuko, who visited the Hauge collection on 17 July 2000, asked whether this jar could not be from the Si Satchanalai kilns. The elaborate stamps are unusually fine in scale, compared to most Suphanburi jars, and the applied buttons of clay are also unusual.

3. (Louise Cort, 2 August 2005) In discussion at the Asian Ceramics Conference at the Field Museum, Chicago, sponsored by the Asian Ceramics Research Organization (ACRO), 23–25 October 1998, Thai archaeologist Sayan Prishanchit noted that there are many kiln sites along the river in Suphanburi province. Some Suphanburi jars were on the Rang Kwian shipwreck, which dates to the early 14th century. Others have been found in the rivers in Central Thailand, with burnt human bones inside. The motifs in the stamps used on Suphanburi jars--the ploughing ceremony, warriors on horseback, fighting elephants--all refer to royal ceremonies. The kilns seem to have been active up to the late 16th century. Several large jars with sema leaf patterns were found on the Ko Si Chang shipwreck. 

4. (Louise Cort, 15 February 2006) With regard to Miyata's query (comment 2), a similar jar—in terms of form, foot shape, and décor—is published in the report of the excavation of the Suphanburi kilns (Kǭng Bōrānnakhadī Māilēk 9 1988, 30).

Kǭng Bōrānnakhadī Māilēk 9 (Archaeological Unit no. 9). 1988. Lǣng tao phao Bān Bāng Pūn (Survey report of excavation of Ban Bang Pun kilns, Suphan Buri, Thailand). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

5. (Louise Cort, 7 January 2007) The relationship of the fine-scale stamped decoration on this jar to the earthenware water jar S2005.351 (and related jars) should be considered, especially given the Mon association for manufacture of the stamped earthenware jars and the alleged relationship of the place name Sawankhalok to a term in the Mon language meaning tunnel kiln (Vickery 1990, 25).

Vickery, Michael. 1990. "The Old City of 'Chaliang'—'Sri Satchanalai'—'Sawankhalok': A Problem of History and Historiography." The Journal of the Siam Society 78, part 2: 15–29.

6. (Louise Cort, 7 January 2007) Cynthia O. Valdes also publishes two of the seven jars mentioned above in "Martaban Jars Found in the Philippines," Arts of Asia 22(5), September-October 1992, fig. 14. There she dates them 14th-16th century. She mentions that jars of this type have also been found at Penny's Bay, Hong Kong (Lam 2001, 36–42, especially fig. 7).

Lam, Peter Y. K. 2001. "Ceramic Types from Penny's Bay, Hong Kong." Oriental Art XLVII(2): 36–42.

7. (Louise Cort, 28 May 2007) A virtually identical jar is on view in the Dong Nai Museum among ceramics (mostly Angkorian, including both glazed and unglazed gray baluster jars; also pre-Angkorian ewers, and a Chinese celadon dating 9th–10th century) found in the Dong Nai River in the vicinity of Bien Hoa City. People found the ceramics when fishing in the river; ceramics still come to light today. Two stone images of Visnu (12th–13th century) were also recovered in the area, suggesting that a Khmer city was located here.

8. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, agreed that this was definitely a product of the Suphanburi (Ban Bang Pun) kilns.

9. (Louise Cort, 21 January 2014) According to Wanaporn Khumbut, assistant curator of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University, TL tests on materials from the Ban Bang Pun kiln sites provided a range of dates from the late 14th to mid-15th century. Several shipwrecks found in Southeast Asia with these wares are also dated to the same period.


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