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

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Jar with incised decoration, for drinking water

  • Earthenware (underfired stoneware)
  • 17.5 x 17.4 cm
  • Maenam Noi ware
  • 16th-18th century, Ayutthaya period
  • Origin: Maenam Noi kilns, Singburi province, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.321

Description

Jar of globular form with trumpet-liked neck, flanged mouth and flat base. The whole bottle is coated with root scars and the lower wall is scraped.
Clay: underfired salmon-red earthenware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: bands of incised decoration around the shoulder.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 23 January 2003) This vessel appears to have been thrown on the wheel.

2. (Louise Cort, 22 April 2005) The shaping of this vessel (probably a form of bottle) on the potter's wheel suggests that it was made in the vicinity of Ayutthaya, where village women potters still use the wheel to make earthenware pottery (whereas elsewhere most earthenware is shaped with paddle and anvil).

3. (Louise Cort, 18 October 2005) Archaeologist and ceramics specialist Morimoto Asako, Fukuoka, noted the band of straight combing around the necks of S2005.321 and S2005.319 and tentatively grouped the two unglazed, flat-based vessels as coming from the same unidentified source. The jars also have similar squared rims. (S2005.320 also belongs in this group.)

Both bears traces of black riverweed that, according to Dr. Sarah Bekker, indicates a recovery from the river at Ayutthaya, based on her observation of such marks on ceramics that she acquired from that source. It is unknown whether ceramics submerged in other rivers would acquire similar markings.

Following the possible association with Ayutthaya, is Singburi a possible source of both bottles? If so, S2005.321 is made of stoneware clay fired (by accident or intentionally) only to earthenware temperature. Bottles of the same form as S2005.321, excavated from the Singburi (Maenam Noi) kilns, are published in Sāyan 1988, 22, 47, 50; and Chārưk 1990, 40.

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).

4. (Louise Cort, 13 January 2005) To origin added Singburi province, possibly Maenam Noi kiln complex.

5. (Louise Cort, 29 January 2007) The "shadow" circle of pale clay surrounded by a darker color on one side of the body of this jar indicates that the jar was placed sideways on the mouth of a large vessel (of the diameter of the circle) for firing.

6. (George Williams, research assistant, 30 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 16th–18th century to 15th–17th century.

7. (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].

8. (Louise Cort, 4 February 2008) In the course of his analysis of black-glazed jars from the Sawankhalok and Maenam Noi kilns, 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.

Changed Date from 15th–17th century to 16th–18th century.

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).


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