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 combed decoration

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 38.6 x 30 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • 13th-14th century, Sukhothai period or Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Ban Ko Noi kilns, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.240


Baluster-shaped jar with tall cylindrical neck, flaring flanged mouth, borad shoulder, tapering body, and flat disc-shaped base.
Clay: grey stoneware, oxidised to brownish grey.
Glaze: none. Fly-ash glaze accumulated on the surfaces of the neck and body of the jar facing the flame, but that "natural glaze" later flaked off, exposing the lighter gray surface of the clay body.
Decoration: applique heart-shaped coils and nubs on shoulder, incised bands below neck and on shoulder, incised lines alternate with combed wavy lines on foot.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, May 6, 2003) A jar of this type with similar appliqué decoration was excavated from Kiln 61 in Si Satchanalai (Hein, Burns, and Richards 1986, 22–33, fig. 8 (right)).

An unglazed jar of this type with grey body is in the Freer Collection (F1995.7). It was excavated at Bananan in Puerto Galera municipality, Oriental Mindaro province in Philippines.

Baluster jars of this type with appliqué coil decoration were also excavated from the Ban Tao Hai kilns, in Phitsanulok, Thailand. Hein and Sangkhanukit notice the similarity between these jars and the Si Satchanalai ones, but points out that the appliqué coils of the Phitsanulok jars are usually internal rather than external. Therefore, this jar could possibly have been made in Si Satchanalai (Hein and Prachote 1986, 25, fig. 19, photos 5, 8).

Jars of this type were among the ceramic finds (13th–15th centuries) found in upland burial sites of the Tak-Mae Sot-Umphang region, Western Thailand. About 60–70% of the ceramic finds are Si Satchanalai wares, 15–20% Sukhothai, the rest are Chinese, Cham and Khmer wares (Rau and Hughes, 8, fig. 6).

Hein, Don, P. Burns, and D. Richards. 1986. "An Alternative View of the Origins of Ceramic production at Si Satchanalai and Sukhothai Central Northern Thailand." SPAFA Digest VII(1): 22–33.

Hein, Don, and Prachote Sangkhanukit. 1985. Report on the Excavation of the Ban Tao Hai kilns, Phitsanulok, Thailand. Research Centre for Southeast Asian Ceramics Papers 1. Adelaide: University of Adelaide.

Rau, Jon L., and Clive Hughes. 1985. "Significance of 13th–15th Century Ceramics and Other Artifacts in Upland Burial Sites of the Tak-Mae Sot-Umphang Region, Western Thailand." The Siam Society Newsletter 1(2): 1–21.

2. (Louise Cort, 13 January 2007) The flat base retains traces of river weed, indicating that this jar was recovered from a riverbed, probably the Chao Phraya at Ayutthaya, although in Si Satchanalai I was shown jars said to have been recovered from the river there.

3. (Louise Cort, 14 January 2007) Don Hein includes unglazed gray jars with applied decorations among his MON ceramics made in the early phase at the Si Satchanalai kilns (Hein 2001, figs. 24d–f). Although Hein is cautious about dating, he suggests that MON production centered in the 13th–14th centuries (Hein 1999, 140). MON production made use of in-ground kilns, which contributed to the smoky firing producing the gray coloration of unglazed stoneware.

Confusingly, Hein also published the jar shown in fig. 24f in fig. 53a, where it is identified as TRSW (Transitional Stoneware), which Hein cautiously dates as 14th–15th century (Hein 1999, 150). This jar, however, seems to agree with the straighter lines of the form of jar 24d, an excavated burial jar that Hein published only as MON.

Changed Date from 14th–16th century to 13th–14th century.

Hein, Don. 2001. "The Sawankhalok Ceramic Industry: from Domestic Enterprise to Regional Entrepreneur". PhD Thesis, Department of Science and Technology, Deakin University, Melbourne.

Hein, Don. 1999. "The First Underglaze Painted Decoration at Sawankhalok: identification of a key influence? (Diqu shouci chuxian de youxia caihui: Taigou taoci tazhan shi shang wailai yingxiang de zhongyao xiansuo?)." Guoli Taiwan daxue Meishushi yanjiu jikan (The Taida Journal of Art History) 7: 137–158.

4. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, commented that this type of applied clay decoration starts in the MON phase of production at Sawankhalok and continue right through to the end of production. He believes it derives from traditions of lost-wax bronze casting. The MON phase of production essentially supplied domestic trade; some examples were found in the upland burials along the border with Burma in southern Tak province. Jars like this were a separate line of production at Sawankhalok from small glazed wares and were made at separate workshops for technical reasons. Jars were made on slow wheels, small wares on fast wheels; gray jars were fired to 1200 degrees Centigrade or less, while glazed wares required a higher temperature to mature the glaze and a higher firewall to direct the draft.

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