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 ornamental lugs and combed decoration

  • Stoneware with iron glaze
  • 42.6 x 25.8 cm
  • 16th-19th century, Lan Sang period or Viang Chan period
  • Origin: possibly Songkhram River basin kilns, Middle Mekong River network, Northeast Thailand or Laos
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.330

Description

Jar with ovoid body, trumpet-shaped neck, flanged mouth, flat base with parallel grooves left by using cord to separate the jar from a static potting surface. A repair on body.
Clay: brown stoneware.
Glaze: caramel, runny, mottled, opaque; base and interior (except the neck) unglazed.
Decoration: two nubs and two series of combed horizontal lines on shoulder.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 12 June 2003) On a visit to the Hauge home on 21 August 1990, Victor Hauge told me that this jar was found in Northern Thailand. The base shows parallel lines of a cord sliced straight across the base to remove the jar from the potter's wheel. I now associate that sort of mark with historical kilns in Laos and along the Si Songkhram River in Northeast Thailand, and with the practice of present-day potters making unglazed stoneware in Northeast Thailand. I estimate the dates for the Maenam Si Songkhram kilns to circa 16th to early 20th century. Until the early nineteenth century, this area was part of the Lan Sang kingdom, centered in Vientiane. After the Thai destruction of Vientiane in 1828, it was incorporated into Thailand.

The jar's find site in Northern Thailand is of interest. According to Roxanna Brown, the close parallel grooves from cutting the pot off a stationary wheel also appear on the bases of some San Kamphaeng wares (Brown 1988, 95), and the San Kamphaeng wares in general show close resemblances to the Lao tradition (ibid., 86).

Brown, Roxanna M. 1988. The Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification. 2nd ed. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

2. (Louise Cort, 28 January 2005) A jar of this type, slightly larger but lacking most of its glaze, is in the collection of Dr. Sarah Bekker, Arlington, VA. Dr. Bekker told me that she and her husband, Konrad, had acquired the jar in Ayutthaya during the time they were living in Bangkok (1964–971). It was the only one of this type she ever saw in the Ayutthaya market. They were told that the jar had come from Northeast Thailand and that it was "Khom," meaning pre-Khmer.

3. (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 16th–19th century.

4. (Louise Cort, 18 February 2009) In a meeting at the Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Pakkret, Nonthaburi, where he is collaborating in a study of pottery production in Nonthaburi province, Mon ceramic specialist Pisarn Boonpoog said that he visited the Si Songkhram river kiln sites while he was living in Nakhon Phanom, 1979-1983. Kilns and jars came to light when the river banks collapsed during the rainy season, so many jars were scattered in villages along the river. Big jars full of cremated bones were found in the fields. Villagers collected such jars and deposited them around the shrine for the village spirit (sanphutaa). Mr. Pisarn noticed many jars in the ruins of a very old temple along the river.


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