Kendi

  • Earthenware with marbled slip decoration
  • 14 x 17.4 x 13.4 cm
  • Lamphun ware
  • 16th century, Lan Na period
  • Origin: Lamphun kilns, Lamphun, Chiang Mai province, Northern Thailand
  • Provenance: Kanchanaburi province, Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.345

Description

Kendi of compressed globular form with tall tubular neck, chipped flange below mouth, mammiform spout, splayed foot and flat base.
Clay: red earthenware, covered with traces of red pigment.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: a band of marbling mixed by brown and creamy white slip on the body and the flange below the mouth.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 12 June 2003) On 15 March 1984, on my first visit to see the Hauges' collection of Southeast Asian ceramics, Victor Hauge described this vessel to me as coming from Kanchanaburi province, in western Thailand.

2. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, April 23, 2003) A similar marbling kendi is in a Japanese collection, which is low-fired earthenware, burnished and painted with red pigment on mouth, neck and lower body. Honda mentions that he found several fragments of this kendi type in east of Sukhothai kilnsite, north-central Thailand about twenty years ago. Potters in China had already made marbled earthenware in the Tang dynasty (618–906), but the differences are that they are glazed earthenware and the application of marbled clay are thicker than the Sukhothai counterpart (Honda and Noriki 1995, 159, pl. 223).

Kendis of this shape with flanged tubular neck and mammiform spout were also made in Si Satchanalai in the fifteenth century, but they are glazed stoneware painted in underglaze iron (Willetts 1971, 141, pls. 183–185).

A Thai kendi of this type is in Brian S. McElney Collection dating to 16th century. This kendi type was also found in Ayutthaya (Till 1988, pl. 36).

Low-fired marbling kendis were also made in Northwest Thailand during the 10th-11th centuries in associated with the Mon culture. Two of them are in the University of Malaya Collection (Khoo 1991, 40–42, figs. 34–35).

A bronze kendi found in East Java dating to 14th–15th century has a similar shape as this kendi (Adhyatman 1987, 82, pl. 78).

Honda Hiromu, and Shimazu Noriki. 1989. Nankai no kotōji [Ancient ceramics of Southeast Asia]. Tokyo: Sōjusha Bijitsu Suppan.

Willetts, William. 1971. Ceramic Art of Southeast Asia. Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society.

Till, Barry. 1988. Ceramics of Mainland Southeast Asia. Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Khoo Joo Ee. 1991. Kendi: Pouring Vessels in the University of Malaya Collection. Edited by Dawn F. Rooney. Singapore: Oxford University Press.

Adhyatman, Sumarah. 1987. Kendi, wadah air minum tradisional (Kendi, traditional drinking water container). Himpunan Keramik (Jakarta): Yayasan Nusantara Jaya.

3. (Louise Cort, 21 August 2003) Many finely-potted earthenware vessels of this type, in bottle form, with slip decoration, were uncovered in the 1980s at the Tak/Om Koi sites in the mountains along the Thai-Burmese border. They formerly were known as Late Haripunchai wares, referring to the kingdom of Haripunchai around Lamphun, but are now known as Lamphun ware, since they postdate the kingdom (Shaw 1989, 105).

Shaw, John. 1993. "Northern Thai Ceramics". Pp. 14–26 in Thai Ceramics: The James and Elaine Connell Collection. San Francisco: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

4. (Louise Cort, 19 April 2004) The neck of a kendi with marbled slip decoration, of the same sort that appears on this kendi, was excavated from the site of the Otomo castle town in Oita City, Oita Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan. The kendi was among a great number and variety of ceramics, mainly Chinese but also Vietnamese and Thai, that appear to have been damaged in a fire in 1586, when the Shimazu forces overwhelmed the Otomo forces, and subsequently buried in a set of ten large Bizen ware jars that had formerly constituted a storage area (Ōita-shi Rekishi Shiryōkan ed. 2003, no. 226). This find establishes a date for this type of decoration on kendis of this sort as late 16th century at the latest.

Ōita-shi Rekishi Shiryōkan (Oita City History Museum), ed. 2003. Bungo Funai—Namban no irodori; Namban no bōeki tōjiki (Manifestations of Southern Barbarians in Bungo province; Southeast Asian trade ceramics. Oita: Ōita-shi Rekishi Shiryōkan.

5. (Louise Cort, 11 October 2005) Comments from Morimoto Asako, archaeologist specializing in Vietnamese and Chinese ceramics recovered from Hakata [Fukuoka], Short-term Visitor to study the Hauge collection: She confirms (see note 3) the find of a neck of an earthenware kendi with "marbelized" decor from the Otomo site in Oita prefecture.

6. (Louise Cort, 16 October 2005) Changed Date from 14th–16th century to 16th century.

7. (Louise Cort, 9 January 2008) According to information collected by Leedom Lefferts on 31 January 2007 at the National Museum in Ayutthaya, the Thai term for kendi is khon thoo.

According to Australian anthropologist Carol Warren, the Balinese word for this vessel shape is caratan (pronounced "charatan"). 

8. (Louise Cort, 8 March 2008) "Perhaps the earthenware item most characteristic of medieval Buddhist sites in Myanmar is the sprinkler pot, or kendi….These are found across South and Southeast Asia, generally attributed to the first and early second millennia A.D., from Pakistan to Laos and down the Malay peninsula to Java, though it is only in the Buddhist countries that their function appears to focus on ritual libration. Buddhist cosmology and practice are bound up with the ritual pouring of water, reflecting the story of how Buddha, at the moment of his enlightenment, was able to call on the water he had poured in previous lives to witness his good deeds to come back and wash away the forces of evil" (Hudson et al 2001, 58 [references omitted]).

Hudson, Bob, Nyein Lwin, and Win Maung (Tanpawady). 2001. "The Origins of Bagan: New Dates and Old Inhabitants." Asian Perspectives 40(1): 48–74.

9. (Louise Cort, 29 May 2008) Don Hein, in Washington to present the Pope Memorial Lecture, observed that the vessel was first thrown on the wheel as a bottle form without neck or spout. A wide shallow channel was incised around the midsection of the bottle (while the bottle revolved on the wheel). Mottled clay was prepared by kneading together white and brown clays. Pieces of this mottled clay were pressed into the channel while the clay of the bottle wall was still leatherhard. Then the excess mottled clay was trimmed off (on the wheel). Finally the vessel was inverted into a chuck on the wheel for the base to be trimmed before the neck and spout were attached.

10. (Louise Cort, 28 June 2010) A kendi with marbelized decoration is in the collection of the Fukuoka Art Museum, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Honda. The body of that kendi is taller and stouter, and the spout (with tip broken off) is more tapered (h. 14.3 cm). The clay body is pale yellow, and the marbeling is executed in brown pigment on bands of white slip covering the flange below the neck and most of the body from just below the neck. The vessel is identified as from Si Satchanalai, 13-14th century.

Taipei County Yingge Ceramics Museum. The Ceramic Road of Southeast Asia II. Pottery Villages, Ancient and Contemporary Ceramics. p. 109.


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