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

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Pot with stamped decoration

  • Earthenware
  • 14 x 20.5 cm
  • 17th-19th century, Ayutthaya period or Bangkok period
  • Origin: Ban Krea Na, Pathum Thani province, Chao Phraya River network, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.352

Description

Pot of compressed globular form with round bottom, short neck and flared mouth with circular grooves inside.
Clay: dense red earthenware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: dense rows of various stamped designs and hanging tails between the neck and the upper body.

Published References

1. 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): 188–189, pl. 2. (The pot is published with a lid.)

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 22 January 2003) According to Victor Hauge when we collected this jar from the Hauge home on 17 July 2002, he bought this jar in Bangkok from a dealer who said it had come from Kanchanaburi Province.

2. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, 13 March 2003) Spinks refers this earthenware pot as ‘moh khao’ (rice-cooking pot), made at kilns along the Maenam Chao Phraya river in Ayutthaya during the Ayutthaya period (AD 1350–1763). As of yet, no exact kiln site has been reported (Spinks 1976, 188–189, pl. 2).

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.

3. (Louise Cort, 21 August 2003) The Hauges acquired most of their earthenware vessels in Ayutthaya and were under the impression that they dated to the Ayutthaya period and had been pulled out of the river. In fact, however, earthenware cooking pots are still made in the vicinity of Ayutthaya, as in many other communities, and it is very difficult to date such surviving wares.

In 1922 W. R. Graham wrote: "In the museum at Ayuthia where, under the fostering care of H. E. Phraya Boran Rajdhanindr, one of the most learned archaeologists of Siam, a very valuable collection of old pottery has been got together, there are many specimens of common earthenware of variable quality and design, that have been found amongst the ruins of that city and in the neighborhood, and that are all at least 150 years old. Some are very rough in texture and workmanship, and others are of fine clay, carefully executed and of graceful design. None of the articles are quite similar to the earthenware pots of today through the differences are in many instances small." (Rooney ed. 1986, p. 20).

The elaborate stamped decoration on this vessel relates it to the earthenware produced by ethnic Mon potter communities formerly living along the Chao Phraya River between Ayutthaya and Bangkok. The only surviving community today is that of Ko Kret.

Graham, W. A. 1922. "Pottery in Siam." The Journal of the Siam Society, 16(1): 1–27. Reprinted in Rooney, Dawn F. ed. 1986. Pp. 11–37 in Thai Pottery and Ceramics: collected articles from the Journal of the Siam Society, 1922–1980: Bangkok: The Siam Society.

4. (George Williams, research assistant, 30 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from 18th century to 18th–19th century.

5. (Louise Cort, 23 March 2007) In his thesis on the Mon population along the Chao Phraya, Brian Foster noted that there were Mon communities all along the Mae Klong River in the provinces of Kanchanaburi and Ratchaburi—just downriver from a major route of entry from Mon country in Burma (Foster 1972, 12). This confirms the probability that this pot was made by a Mon potter living in Kanchanaburi province, which was mentioned to Victor Hauge as the source of this jar.

Foster, Brian Lee. 1972. "Ethnicity and Economy: The Case of the Mons in Thailand". Ph.D. Dissertation, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

6. (Louise Cort, 17 April 2008) All of the earthenware jars in the Hauge collection with small-scale and precise stamped decoration made with repeat impressions of individual stamps bear a visual and technical relationship to metal vessels of the region. One example of a Southeast Asian (possibly Thai) bronze vessel survives in Japan, where it has been used as a water jar for the tea ceremony. It is in the Nomura Art Museum collection in Kyoto (Hayashiya 1985, no. 216).

The vessel was raised (hammer marks are still visible) and then ornamented with strikes of various metal stamps. The body shape is a compressed sphere, with a wide neck that tapers toward a mouth with horizontal everted rim. (The shape is similar to S2005.353–366.) The vessel rests on three short feet. Large pendant motifs of two alternating leaflike designs are spaced around the upper half of the body, below a narrow band of heart-shaped motifs on the shoulder. Two smaller motifs alternate around the neck. The flat rim also bears a band of ornamentation. The elaborate lid has radiating raised lotus-petals around a central calyx-shaped knob.

The vessel is dated 16th century, although the description mentions that it has been passed down as a Higashiyama gyobutsu—a possession of the military ruler Ashikaga Yoshimasa (1435–1490). It is said to have belonged later to the tea masters Sen no Rikyu (1522–1591) and Yabunouchi Kenshin (1536–1627) and subsequently to the Kyoto temple Nishi Honganji. 

Hayashiya Seizo, ed. 1985. Cha no dogu (3)—kame, kogo, mizusashi [Tea utensils (3)—kettles, incense containers, and water jars]. Vol. 12, Chado Shukin. Tokyo: Shogakukan.

7. (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 this is a Mon pot of the type called nerng (Mon) or maw nam (Thai). This style of pot was made in one Mon village in Pathum Thani province called Ban Krea Na. One person (gender not elicited) there can still make such pots but is no longer active; the person used a wheel to make the preform for such pots and has a collection of stamps (the Mon term is berm) used for the decoration. This pot would have come with an earthenware lid and a support (like the stand that forms part of S1994.16).

Mr. Pisarn guided us to the site of the pottery-making village Sam Kok, in Pathum Thani province along the Chao Phraya river not far from the provincial capital. Several water pots of this type were part of the collection of the temple Wat Singha, across the road from the site of the Sam Kok kilns. The well-known water pots from Ban Krea Na were widely known as "Krea Na pots" (maw Krea Na). Ban Krea Na lies between Sam Kok and the city; it survives only as the name of a modern street. According to Mr. Pisarn, Sam Kok was the earlier site. Pottery production began in Ban Krea Na in the nineenth century, during the reign of Rama II (1809-1824), when a new group of Mon potters was brought to the area from Burma.

While it is not impossible that this pot was acquired from Kanchanaburi province (and presumably made there), as Victor Hauge was told by the Bangkok dealer who sold it to him (see note 1), it seems more likely that it was a relatively local product of Ban Krea Na. Changed Origin from Kanchanaburi province to Ban Krea Na, Chao Phraya River Network, Pathum Thani province, Central Thailand.


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