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

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Architectural finial with a deva (thep phanom)

  • Stoneware with iron pigment under white glaze
  • 81.7 x 35.9 x 20.2 cm
  • Sawankhalok ware
  • circa 15th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Ban Pa Yang kilns, Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai province, North-central Thailand
  • Provenance: Bangkok, Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.296


Architectural finial with a deva (thep phanom) emerging from a lotus.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 18 January 2005) A "building ornament" of this type is in the collection of Wat Yai, Phitsanulok, Thailand (Spinks 1956, third plate, fig. B). It is identified as Sukhothai ware. The photograph also shows other "Sukhothai" building ornaments, including a fully modeled makara and the lower body of a guardian figure. This is suggestive of the range of ceramic ornaments used at a given temple.

An "architectural finial" with design of a garuda gripping two snakes, attributed to the Si Satchanalai kilns, circa 15th century (h. 64.5 cm), in the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, is published in (Guy 1989, color pl. 15). The upper half of the finial is missing, as is one lower corner. 

Guy also publishes three other architectural pieces from Si Satchanalai: a fragment of a relief representing a garuda (ibid., fig. 31), a finial in the form of a makara (ibid., fig. 32), and a guardian figure (ibid., fig. 33). In his discussion of ceramic sculpture made for architectural use (ibid., 33–36), Guy mentions pieces recovered from the ruins of monasteries in Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai. He notes that the majority of finials bear the motif of "adoring deva emerging from an open lotus," as does this example. He also comments that "much of the imagery seen in Thai architectural ceramics is derived from Khmer art, replicating in ceramic the sandstone sculptures of Angkor and Phimai." With relation to dating, he suggests that the work of the Thai potters replicating sandstone and bronze "may represent a second wave of Khmer influence which penetrated Thai culture following the sacking of Angkor in 1431, when bronzes and other artifacts are known to have been removed by the invading Thai forces." The architectural ceramics were produced mainly at the kilns of Ban Pa Yang, immediately north of the Si Satchanalai city wall, although they were also made at Sukhothai kilns.  

To Context added "Thailand, Sukhothai province, Si Satchanalai, Ban Pa Yang kiln group."

Spinks, Charles N. 1956. "Siam and the Pottery Trade of Asia." The Journal of the Siam Society 44(2): 61–111.

Guy, John. 1989. Ceramic Traditions of South–East Asia. Singapore: Oxford University Press.  

2. (Louise Cort, 7 January 2007) For glazed ceramic sculpture from the Si Satchanalai kilns, made for use at monasteries in the cities of Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai, see Guy and Richards 1991–1992. Objects like this, identified as ridge-, roof-, or gable-finial, are published in figs. 19–20 and discussed on p. 86, where it is mentioned that these "lower gable-roof finials" bear a splayed foot on the back, indicating that they could have been secured on a wooden dowel.

Guy, John, and R. J. Richards. 1991–1992. "Architectural Ceramics of Sukhothai Province." Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society 56: 75–97.

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