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

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Jar with two vertical lugs for distilled liquour

  • Unglazed stoneware
  • 27.8 x 25 cm
  • Sisattanak ware
  • 16th-19th century, Lan Sang period or Viang Chan period
  • Origin: Sisattanak kilns, Viang Chan (Vientiane), Viang Chan (Vientiane) province, Middle Mekong River network, Laos
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.328


Liquor jar (hai lao) of globular form with tall bowl-shaped neck, flared rim, flat base with parallel grooves left by using cord to separate the jar from a static potting surface. Two U-shaped lugs luted on shoulder.
Clay: light grey stoneware, blacked by reduction firing.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: incised rings on the bottom of the neck.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, May 15, 2003) Bottles of this type were excavated from the Sisattanak kiln site, Vientiane, Laos, which was also known as Ban Tao Hai (the village of jar kilns) by the local people. The large cross draft, surface kilns dates probably to the 15th century (Hein, Barbetti, and Thongsa 1992, 71, fig. 34).

Hein, Don, Mike Barbetti, and Thongsa Sayavongkhamdy. 1992. An Excavation at the Sisattanak Kiln Site, Vientiane, Lao P.D.R., 1989. Sydney: Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific, University of Sydney.

2. (Louise Cort, 21August 2003) Regarding the date for this bottle, there is no reason to believe that the Sisattanak kilns, serving the capital of the Lan Sang kingdom as well as communities up and down the Mekong River, ceased operation until the Thai invasion of 1828. Potters on the other side of the Mekong, working at kilns along the tributary river Si Songkhram, also made unglazed gray bottles of this type, probably continuing to work until sometime in the twentieth century.

3. (Louise Cort, 14 October 2005) Archaeologist and ceramic specialist Morimoto Asako, Fukuoka, observed that the polished and smoked surface of this jar is like the ware known in Japan as "tile ware" (gakushitsu doki or gaki). The variation in coloration around the base suggests that it was fired upright in the mouth of a larger vessel.

4. (George Williams, research assistant, 30 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 15th–early 19th century to 16th–19th century.

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