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

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Jar with applied, incised, and stamped decoration

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 28.5 x 21.6 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
  • S2005.239


Baluster-shaped jar, with broad cylindrical neck, flanged mouth, broad shoulder tapered to foot and flat base. Four applied studs on shoulder. Rim distorted during firing.
Clay: grey stoneware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: a band of jabbed decoration below neck; a band of stamped pipal leave design on shoulder; incised horizontal lines on waist and foot.

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, 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 bone 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.

3. (George Williams, research assistant, 29 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 14th–16th century to 14th–15th century.

4. (Louise Cort, 15 January 2008) A Ban Bang Pun (Suphanburi) jar with stamped bodhi leaf motifs around the shoulder, containing human bones,  was unearthed near the base of a ruined assembly hall in the Sam Sop area, in the upper Khwae Noi river area, Kanchanaburi province, near the Burmese border. The area was surveyed in advance of flooding occasioned by construction of the Khao Laem dam (Sot 1984, 47). It is mentioned that the area was settled by Mon immigrants from Burma in the sixteenth century.

Sot Dǣng-īet (Sod Daeng-iet). 1984. "Archaeological Finds from the Upper Khwae Noi River Area." Muang Boran 10(3): 45–47.

5. (Louise Cort, 28 January 2008) One Ban Bang Pun ware jar of this general size and shape (h. 26 cm at the broken neck) was recovered from the Turiang shipwreck, together with ten medium-sized jars (h. 46 cm) and several very large jars. The medium-sized jars were found to contain nodules of sphalerite or zinc blend, containing zinc sulfide (ZnS), probably as commercial cargo (Brown and Sjostrand 2000, 36–37, 39). The shipwreck was located well east of the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is estimated to have been heading to southwestern Borneo or south Sulawesi (ibid., 12).

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

6. (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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