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

Print | Back to Normal Layout

Jar with four horizontal lugs

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 60.5 x 45.5 cm
  • Maenam Noi ware
  • 15th-17th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Maenam Noi kilns, Singburi province, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.309


Jar of ovoid form with tall neck, rounded mouthrim and flat base; four horizontal lugs on shoulder.
Clay: brown stoneware.
Glaze: dark olive green, low gloss, translucent; falls short of lower body.
Decoration: combed bands on upper shoulder.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, April 25, 2003) Jars of this type, both glazed and unglazed, were unearthed at kiln sites along Maenam (River) Noi in Choeng Sub-district, Bang Rachan District, Singburi province, Central Thailand from 1988 to 1989. These brick built kilns are horizontal cross draft kilns in ovoid shape, with a lower fire box in the front, an inclined firing chamber in the middle and a chimney at the end. Inside the kilns, the smaller jars were stacked vertically above the larger jars (Sāyan 1988, 41, 43–45, 66, 70–72; Chārưk 1990, 36–37, 39–40, 96, 113).

Jars of this type are sometimes called Wat Phra Prang pottery, as the kiln sites are closed to Wat Phra Prang in Kok Moh village, Choeng sub-district. There are plenty of jars of different sizes found in this site. Pariwat and Kritsada say that these jars were made during the 15th–17th centuries and possibly were used to hold merchandise such as honey, oil, eggs or food (Pariwat and Lertrit 1990, 63, 148, 199, fig. 85, pl. 42).

Sāyan Phraichānčhit (Sayan Phraichanchit). 1988. Rāi ngān kānsamrūat lae khutkhon Tao Mǣnam Nǭi: Tambon Chœng Klat, Amphœ Bang Račhan, Čhangwat Singburī (Report on the survey and excavation of the Maenam Noi kilns, Bang Rachan town, Sing Buri province). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Chārưk Wilaikǣo (Charuk Wilaykaen). 1990. Tao Mǣnam Nǭi 2 [Maenam Noi Kilns, part 2]. Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Pariwat Thammapreechakorn, Lertrit Sawang, and Kritsada Pinsri. 1996. Sinlapa khrư̄ang thûai nai Prathēt Thai (Ceramic Art in Thailand). 2nd ed. Bangkok: Ostospa Co. Ltd.

2. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, April 28, 2003) Jars of this type were found in several wreck sites:

a) The Pattaya Wreck site: It lies near Pattaya in the Gulf of Thailand. Many jars of this type were found together with some Si Satchanalai celadon wares. The date of this site is yet uncertain (Green and Harper 1983, 21–27).

b) The Ko Si Chang Three shipwreck: This is the third wreck site discovered near Ko Si Chang in the Gulf of Thailand. This mid-16th century ship is possibly originated from Thailand. It carried material from Thailand, Vietnam and China. Stoneware storage jars were the main finds in this site (Green et al 1987, 70–75).

c) The Nanyang shipwreck: This wreck site was discovered 10 nautical miles from the island of Pulau Pemanggil, off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia. Brown dates this site to be around 1380, the last decade of the 14th century. The main ceramic finds of this vessel were Si Satchanalai celadon. According to Brown, the Nanyang is currently the earliest shipwreck with celadon wares from Si Satchanalai. Spur marks are common on these celadon plates. It was a stacking method used in the early phase of Si Satchanalai production. Since brown glazed jars of this type were also found on this vessel, the Singburi kilns can be dated as early as the end of the 14th century (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 47, color pl. 35).

d) The Royal Nanhai shipwreck: A mid-15th century vessel of South China Sea type was discovered off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia in 1995. It was dated with reference to the find of Chinese blue and white bowls of the interregnum period. This vessel carried about 21,000 ceramics and most of which are Si Satchanalai celadon wares. A large number of Singburi jars of this type were also found. Brown claims that she mistook these jars as Si Satchanalai ware in her previous publications (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 51, color pl. 69).

e) The Risdam shipwreck: A V.O.C. ship sank in 1727 near Mersing, off the eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia was discovered in 1984. Brown identifies two storage jars of this type to be wares made in the Maenam Noi Kilns (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 61, fig. 48).

f) The Singtai shipwreck: It lies off the north-eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia and was discovered in April 2001. Storage jars of different sizes produced in the Maenam Noi Kilns are the dominant ceramic finds, but Brown observed the difference in style from the Royal Nanhai hoards (Brown and Sjostrand 2001, 57).

Green, Jeremy, and Rosemary Harper. 1983. The Excavation of the Pattaya Wreck Site and Survey of Three Other Sites, Thailand, 1982. Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No. 1. Fremantle: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.

Green, Jeremy, Rosemary Harper, and Vidya Intakosi. 1987. The Ko Si Chang Three Shipwreck Excavation 1986. Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No. 4. Fremantle: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.

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

3. (Candy Chan, May 1, 2003) Shaw supposes that the Singburi kilns began operation around 1600 and ended no later than in 1767, the second invasion of Ayutthaya by the Burmese. The ceramics finds in both the Nanyang and Risdam shipwrecks shed new light on the dating of the Singburi kilns from the late 14th–mid 18th centuries (Shaw 1987, 47–49).

Shaw, John C. 1987. Introducing Thai Ceramics; also Burmese and Khmer. Chiang Mai: Duangphorn Kemasingki.

4. (Candy Chan, May 5, 2003) Singburi jars of this type are also found in the Philippines (Valdes, Long, & Barbosa 1992, 168–171, pls. 144–150).

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.

5. (Candy Chan, May 22, 2003) Thai jars of this type were found in the Hoi An shipwreck, a 15th–16th century cargo carried mainly ceramics made in the Chu Dau kilnsites in Hai Duong province, Northern Vietnam. It was discovered off Cu Lao Cham Island in the area of Hoi An town, an ancient trading port in Quang Nam province, Central Vietnam, with over 150,000 intact ceramics on board (Butterfields 2000, 8–11, pls. 713–714, 716–719).

Butterfields. 2000. Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard. 2 vols, Vol. 2. San Francisco and Los Angeles: Butterfields.

6. (Louise Cort, 20 August 2004) A jar of this type was among some 77 jars discovered at funerary sites on cliffs and in rock shelters in the Cardamom Mountains of southwestern Cambodia (Phnom Penh Post, 11–24 April 2003, 1, 14–15, courtesy of Darryl Collins). The sites are dated to the 14th–16th centuries and include wooden coffins as well as jars filled with bones, seemingly from secondary burials. The jars are described as bearing "influences from China and Thailand," but the Thai identity of the jar resembling this one is not stated explicitly. A foreign researcher is quoted that "the superstition of local villagers, who believe that disturbing the jars will incur the wrath of vengeful spirits, gives him hope that the sites will remain safe. He recounts a popular story about a rich Thai man from Koh Kong who ordered several jars for a private collection. Within six months of the cursed cargo's delivery, everyone involved in the operation was dead."

7. (Louise Cort, 19 January 2006) These wares are commonly discussed as "Singburi ware," after the province where they were made, but the kiln group that produced them is known more specifically as the Maenam Noi kiln group, after the river along which the kilns were located. Changed Ware from Singburi ware to Maenam Noi ware.

8. (Louise Cort, 13 March 2006) The Kon Tum Provincial Museum collected two large Maenam Noi jars (h. approx 60 cm; registration numbers 2939–2940) from a Jeh Trieng community in Ngoc Hoi district in 2001.They had been owned by two different men in the same village, but they had been known in the community as a "wife" (2939, k'dong pi vo) and "husband" (2940, k'dong pi chong). These massive jars must have been transported into the highlands by elephant.

9. (Louise Cort, 24 March 2007) Fragments of Maenam Noi ware jars with four lugs, basins, and small mortars, together with necks of underfired stoneware jars (identified as earthenware), were recovered from shallow water about 100 meters off the shore of Ojika island, at the northern end of the Goto island chain west of Kyushu. (The islands belong to Nagasaki prefecture.) The site, named Karamisaki, is a promontory protecting the harbor located just below the former castle site on the island. From 1152 through 1868, the island formed part of the domain of the Matsuura warrior house, based in Hirado. According to a map dated 1718 in the Matsuura History Museum in Hirado, Ojika island lay along the route of Chinese merchant ships bound for Nagasaki. Six Chinese-style stone anchors have been recovered on the island. The Maenam Noi jars correspond in mouth form to such jars recovered from other Japanese sites dating to the second half of the 16th century or early 17th century. Mixed with the Maenam Noi ceramics were Thai earthenware lids and portable stoves, a Chinese stoneware jar and Chinese blue-and-white porcelain (types dating to the second half of the 16th century), and 19th century Hizen porcelain from Hasami. The ceramics were recovered from a shallows made treacherous by swift tides and probably represent the remains of one or more shipwrecks.

Hayashida Kenzo, and Tsukabara Hiroshi, eds. 2002. Yamamioki kaitei iseki (Yamamioki underwater site), Ojika-cho bunkazai chōsa hōkokusho 16. Fukuoka and Ojika-cho: Kyushu-Okinawa Suichū Kōkogaku Kyōkai [Kyushu-Okinawa Underwater Archaeology Association] and Ojika-cho Kyōiku Iinkai [Ojika Town Board of Education].

10. (Louise Cort, 23 May 2007) A tall, fairly slender Maenam Noi jar (h. 60 cm, diam. shoulder 40 cm, diam. rim 20 cm) with thick rim and thick lugs was recovered from the Dong Nai River bed in Dong Nai province (1993–1995) and is now in the Museum of  Vietnam History, Ho Chi Minh City (acc. no. 14664).

11. (Louise Cort, 26 May 2007) Many Maenam Noi four-lug jars of varying shapes and sizes (both large wide-shouldered jars and short cylindrical jars, cf. S2005.316–318) are in the collection of the Ba Ria Vung Tau museum. Their condition—glaze abraded, incrustation of marine growth—indicates shipwreck contexts, although they were not excavated but simply rescued. A tall jar (h. 69 cm) with short neck (resembling S2005.308 or 309) and a medium-sized jar (h. 45 cm) without neck (cf. S2005.315) were both recovered near Long Son island, offshore from Vung Tau.

12. (Louise Cort, 28 May 2007) The ceramics storeroom of the Dong Nai Museum in Bien Hoa contains ceramics recovered within the province, primarily from the Dong Nai River, especially in the vicinity of Bien Hoa. In this large collection, the absence of Maenam Noi jars is notable.

13. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2007) The Binh Thuan Museum, Phan Thiet, houses 14 medium-size Maenam Noi jars of the neckless type (BTBT Gm 141 etc). They were found in the sea, all at the same place, although the museum does not have details of the location.

14. (Louise Cort, 31 January 2008) Mukai Kou has presented the most thorough study to date of the morphology and chronology of black-glazed jars with four lugs from the Sawankhalok and Maenam Noi kilns, based on evidence from the kiln sites, shipwrecks, and excavation sites in Japan (Mukai 2003).

He proposes two types of Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok) jars with four lugs bearing black glaze:

I. Jar with long neck (tall trumpet-shaped mouth; sharp angle between shoulder and neck)
II. Jar with short neck (shoulder curves up into neck without clear distinction; rim is thickened)

He divides Maenam Noi jars with four lugs bearing black glaze into three types:

I. Jar with short neck (made with well-refined clay)
II. Jar with short neck (made with unrefined clay)
III. Jar without neck (made with unrefined clay)

For all types, three basic sizes are known: large (height around 60 cm), medium (height around 45 cm) and small (height around 30 cm).

He proposes the following periodization:

1. Second half of 14th century—early 15th century:
Sawankhalok type I jars appear in late 14th century contexts.
Sawankhalok types I and II jars appear in early 15th century contexts.

2. Mid-15th century
Maenam Noi type I appears

3. Late 15th century—early 16th century
Maenam Noi type II appears alongside Maenam Noi type I; overall share shifts from Sawankhalok to Maenam Noi jars

4. Mid- to late 16th century
Maenam Noi type III appears alongside Maenam Noi type II; no Maenam Noi type I

5. 17th century and later
Maenam Noi types II and III

Mukai also notes that the other types of Maenam Noi wares—black-glazed or unglazed bottles and bowls—first appear in early 16th century contexts.

Mukai Kou. 2003. "Tai kokkatsuyū shijiko no bunrui to nendai (The Study on Brown Glazed Storage Jars, exported from Thailand)." Bōeki Tōji Kenkyū (Trade Ceramics Studies) 23: 90–105 (Japanese), 161 (English summary).

field notes

Submit Comment 0 comments total

No field notes found.