Pot with stamped decoration

  • Earthenware
  • 12 x 14.2 cm
  • 12th-19th century
  • Origin: Songkhla province, Southern Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.347


Pot of compressed globular form with round bottom, tall cylindrical neck and flared mouth.
Clay: creamy-grey earthenware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: row of wheel-shaped designs stamped on the shoulder.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 14 April 2005) Dr. Sarah Bekker, Arlington, Virginia, owns two white-bodied earthenware pots that were purchased in the market in Nakhon Si Thammarat, in southern Thailand, in 1968. They were said to have been found in caves. She was told by Mr. Nikom Sutthirat at the National Museum in Nakhon Si Thammarat that such pots were used only in caves for holding cremated human remains, and that the holes in the centers of the bottoms of both pots indicate that usage. Mr. Nikom dated these pots 8th-10th century and associated them with the ancient kingdom of Srivijaya.

A photograph of a jar resembling Dr. Bekker's jars appears in Muang Boran 5, 2 (December 1978–January 1979), 52. The caption reads: "Beater-marked funeral jar and lid. Decorated with rosettes and parallel striations. Biscuit-fired pottery. Found in a cave at Tambon Na Tham, Muang district, Yala province. This kind of funeral jar has been excavated in large numbers near Wat Wieng, Chaiya district, Surat Thani province."

Nakhon Si Thammarat is to the north, and Yala is to the south, of the Pa-O kilns in Sathing Phra, Songkhla province, the historical (10th–12th century) center for white-bodied earthenware kendis, along the east coast of the peninsula (Brown 1989, 126–127). The nearby town of Sathing Maw in Songkhla province is the largest modern center for ceramic production in that area (Solheim 1964, 153–159). Surat Thani is further north from Nakhon Si Thammarat, also on the east coast.

Brown, Roxanna M., ed. 1989. Guangdong Ceramics from Butuan and other Philippine sites. Manila: The Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines.

Solheim, Wilhelm G., II,. 1964. "Pottery Manufacture in Sting Mor and Ban Nong Sua Kin Ma, Thailand." The Journal of the Siam Society LII(Part 2): 153–161.

2. (Louise Cort, 19 October 2006) "Starburst" stamps of a similar nature appear on the shoulder of a tall-necked pot illustrated by Elizabeth Moore in her talk, "Bricks, walls and the first millennium AD landscape of Burma (Myanmar)," at the European Association for Southeast Asian Archaeology conference in September. Moore described the vessel as a burial urn containing bones and ash.

3. (Louise Cort, 24 January 2007) Amara Srisuchat describes the Pa-O kiln site, which used updraft kilns (Srisuchat 2003, 255, 258–259). She points out that white clay was also used to make cooking pots found at the 12th century Wat Wiang site, a habitation site situated north of Pa-O in Surat Thani province (ibid., 255 and 258). She excavated the site in 1981 in order to confirm the evidence for habitation given by two inscriptions, both dated 1183 (ibid., 255).

Changed Date from circa 12th century to 12th century. Origin is given as Songkhla province, pending better knowledge of how widespread are deposits of white clay—and historical pottery-making centers making use of it—in peninsular Thailand. It seems highly unlikely that a single place would be the source of all such earthenware in the region.

Amara Srisuchat. 2003. "Earthenware from Archaeological Sites in Southern Thailand: The First Century BC to the Twelfth Century AD". Pp. 249–260 in Earthenware in Southeast Asia—Proceedings of the Singapore Symposium on Premodern Southeast Asian Earthenwares, edited by John N. Miksic. Singapore: Singapore University Press and the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society.

4. (Louise Cort, 23 February 2008) Dr. Sarah Bekker's white earthenware pots bear two versions of paddle-impressed patterns over their entire bodies: an elaborate pattern based on a circular "sunburst" motif on the upper body, and a pattern of parallel lines on the lower body. So does the jar illustrated in Muang Boran. This format is one documented by Solheim at the Sathing Maw kilns (Solheim 1964, 154, pl. 1-c). Solheim also documented plain-bodied water storage pots bearing stamped impressions at intervals around the shoulder, impressed with stamps carved from water buffalo horn (ibid., 154, pls. 1-f, 1-g, fig. 1). "Each potter has a different stamp and thus a potter's work can be identified by the stamp, where it is used" (ibid., 154). The stamp shown in Plate I-g is a teardrop shape, but the stamp in Fig. 1, right, is a round sunburst design, carved into the round end of the tool. Thus it may be possible that the Bekker pots and the Hauge pot are connected more closely to the Sathing Maw production lineage than to the earlier Pa-O production.

According to Spinks, the Sathing Maw potters were "descendents of prisoners-of-war from Laos who were originally settled in this remote part of the country by the Bangkok authorities as a security measure during the wars with Laos in the late 18th and early 19th centuries" (Spinks 1976, 194).

In a research visit to Sathing Maw in February, 1998, Leedom Lefferts elicited that the older style of making the initial form for earthenware pots involved a team of workers: a man turned the wheel by hand while a woman shaped the form. (This had also been documented by Ho 1982, 261, 274, pl. 1-b.) The form made on the wheel was the rim and the rudimentary body. It was cut off the wheel with an open base, which was closed in the stage when the final body shape was given using paddle and anvil. Based on our survey of earthenware production technology in Mainland Southeast Asia, this approach to making the initial form relates most closely to that used in the pottery-making community in Ayutthaya, although we did record this process used at one Phu Thai village in Kalasin province, Northeast Thailand. 

Spinks also noted that flat roof tiles made in Songkhla kilns "were shipped to Bangkok as ballast on the cargo sailing vessels that then plied between the capital and this southern part of the country. This type of roof tile was widely used in Bangkok in the 19th century" (Spinks 1976, 193). Supposing that this pot originated at a kiln in Songkhla, it may have been shipped to Bangkok along with the roof tiles and then traded along the Chao Phraya. The base of the pot bears the netlike pattern that (according to Sarah Bekker) is the trace of plant growth on pots recovered from the Chao Phraya at Ayutthaya. The Hauges are likely to have acquired this pot in Ayutthaya or Bangkok.

Changed Date from 12th century to 12th–19th century. 

Solheim II, Wilhelm G. 1964. "Pottery Manufacture in Sting Mor and Ban Nong Sua Kin Ma, Thailand." The Journal of the Siam Society LII(Part 2): 153–161.

Spinks, Charles N. 1976. "The Ayuddhaya Period Earthenwares, some Contemporary Thai Kilns, their Wares and Potting methods." The Journal of the Siam Society 64(2): 188–201.

Ho Chui-mei. 1982. "A brief survey of the pottery industry in villages in the south and in the north-East of Thailand". Pp. 259–284 in Earthenware in Asia and Africa, edited by John Picton. Colloquies on Art & Archaeology in Asia No. 12. London: Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art.

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