Alms bowl

  • Stoneware with white glaze
  • 16.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • late 15th-16th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Sawankhalok kilns, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.280


Alms bowl of globular form with wide mouth, carved footring and a large black circular scar from tubular kiln support on recessed base. A crack extends from rim to base.
Clay: grey stoneware with black inclusions, oxidized to brownish grey.
Glaze: white with opalescent bluish tinge, matte inside, glossy outside, translucent; mouthrim and footring unglazed.
Decoration: none.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, May 19, 2003) Opaque white glazed wares were found in the Singtai Shipwreck (+/- 1550 AD), which was discovered off the northeast coast of peninsular Malaysia in April 2001. The other Thai wares on the ship were Si Satchanalai and Sukhothai underglazed iron wares as well as Singburi (Maenam Noi) storage jars (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 31 and 57).

Brown speculates the opaque white glazed-wares appeared in the Si Satchanalai kilns from the 15th century and lasted till the 1550s when the kilns were closed after the Burmese invasion. This technique was never employed in Sukhothai wares. The appearance of the white wares in Sukhothai kilns was created by applying white slip under clear glaze. The white glaze of Si Satchanalai had a high calcium content owed to the addition of 'horse-tooth stone' in Thai, which can be substituted by using crushed sea shells or animal bone (Brown 1993, 45–51, fig 17, color pl. 50).

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

Brown, Roxanna  M. 1993. "Sawankhalok White-glazed Ware". Pp. 45–51 in Chinese and South-East Asian White Ware Found in the Philippines. Singapore, Oxford and New York: The Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, The National Museum of the Philippines and Oxford University Press.

2. (Louise Cort, 10 February 2007) Using XRF analysis, Blythe McCarthy confirmed that the glaze contains a high amount of calcium. This can cause phase separation in the glaze, resulting in the opaque bluish-white glaze. 

The evenly unglazed rim of this bowl suggests that the glaze may have been wiped off before firing so that a flat lid could be fired in place.

3. (Louise Cort, 14 January 2007) Don Hein associated white-glazed wares in a generally Ming Chinese style with the wares made at Si Satchanalai that he terms LASW (Late Stoneware) (Hein 2001, figs. 43–44). Although Hein is cautious about dating, he suggests that LASW dates to 15th–16th century (Hein 1999, 150).

Changed Date from 14th–mid 16th century to 15th–16th 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, 17 February 2008) From shipwreck evidence, Roxanna Brown finds that opaque white glaze appears on objects recovered from wrecks that she dates to the early 16th century, circa 1500–1520. They appear at the same time as the so-called brown and white wares, decorated with iron brown and opaque white glazes (Brown 2004, 74).

Changed Date from 15th–16th century to Late 15th–16th century.

Brown, Roxanna Maude. 2004. "The Ming Gap and Shipwreck Ceramics in Southeast Asia". Ph.D. Dissertation, Department of Art History, University of California, Los Angeles.

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