Pot with stamped decoration

  • Earthenware with red pigment
  • 18.1 x 20.1 cm
  • 17th-19th century, Ayutthaya period or Bangkok period
  • Origin: Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, or Nonthaburi province, Chao Phraya River network, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.357a


Pot of compressed globular form with round bottom, tall cylindrical neck and flanged mouth; covered by a dish-shaped lid with a knob.
Clay: red earthenware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: wtamped with a row of spiky leaf-shaped designs on shoulder; series of red painted horizontal lines on neck and body.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, 13 March 2003) Spinks refers this type of earthenware pots with characteristic stamped Thai-type pendant-designs as ‘moh khao’-type pot (rice-cooking-type pot), made at kilns along the Maenam Chao Phraya river in Ayutthaya during the Ayutthaya period (AD 1350–1763). Yet, no exact kilnsite has been reported (Spinks 1976, 188–189, pl. 7).

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.

2. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, 13 March 2003) A similar pot is in the James and Elaine Connell Collection in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco and is dated 16th-18th century (Asian Art Museum of San Francisco 1993, 156, pl. 134).

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, ed. 1993. Thai Ceramics: The James and Elaine Connell Collection. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.

3. (Louise Cort, 28 July 2003) The stamped leaf-shaped motifs suggest an association with Mon pottery production. Similar stamps were employed by the Mon potters working in Pakret, Nonthaburi province, the last surviving Mon pottery center on the Chao Phraya River.

4. (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." (Graham 1922, 20)

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

5. (Louise Cort, 30 January 2008) There is no way of knowing the original relationship of this lid to this vessel. In all likelihood the pairing was created by the person who sold the piece to the Hauges, although presumably the lid, like the pot, was recovered from the Chao Phraya River near Ayutthaya.

Concave earthenware lids with "mushroom" knobs of the type associated with this vessel were excavated from the site of the royal palace at Angkor Thom (Franiatte 2000, 112–113, fig. 32).

The date of the lids from the royal palace excavations is not certain, but Franiatte notes that a pedestal-base jar associated with such a lid was excavated from the Srah Srang cemetery in 1962 (ibid., 113, no.  25). The cemetery was used in two phases—from the second half of the 11th to the early 12th century and from the 13th through 15th centuries (Courbin 1988, 25). A lid of this type appears on the same excavated level as an Angkorian period (seemingly 11th–12th century) baluster jar in Courbin 1988, 31, fig. 9.

This evidence seems to suggest that such earthenware lids were in use by the Angkorian period, were made by local potters, and perhaps were marketed separately from specific vessels, to be paired up as needed by vessel owners.

Production of such lids took place at kilns in central Thailand. The Freer Study Collection contains a sherd of a very large concave lid—unglazed, reddish, but fairly hard, perhaps stoneware—collected by John Pope at the Koh Noi kiln district in Si Satchanalai  (F-SC-P2346), along with several fragments of large brown-glazed four-eared jars. This would appear to demonstrate a close association of the production of glazed stoneware jars and such lids.

Lids of this type were also recovered from the Maenam Noi kilns in Singburi province (Sāyan 1988, 51; Chārưk 1990, 65). Charuk illustrates two types—with a hemispherical underside and with a flat bottom and straight everted sides.

Numerous lids of this type were recovered from excavation of the mid-15th century Kyo-no-uchi SK01 site within the Shuri Castle site, Okinawa (Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa ed. 2001, 39[no. 209]; 66[no. 208]). Brown-glazed jars with four lugs from the Sawankhalok and Maenam Noi kilns are also excavated from this site (Mukai 2003, 98).

The lids are also found at other sites on Okinawa island, in notably greater quantities than Thai earthenware pots, and only in two cases were earthenware pots found buried together with lids. On the contrary, a group of some sixty lids was excavated from one place within the Kyo-no-uchi site (Naha Shiritsu Tsuboya Yakimono Hakubutsukan, ed. 1998, 4950, fig. 8). This find suggests that the lids were exported separately from earthenware pots. 

A lid of this type was excavated from the shipwreck "Longquan," estimated to have sunk circa 1370–1440, and carrying (judging from sample finds brought up from the deep site) Chinese, Sawankhalok, and Sukhothai wares (Brown and Sjostrand 2000, 51, pl. 79). "This type of cover was used primarily for storage jars. They are a very common find on wrecks in the South China Sea but their kiln origin is unknown. No sherds from this shape have been found at the Old Sukhothai or Sawankhalok kilns."

Franiatte, Marc. 2000. "Nouvelles analyses de la céramique khmère du Palais royal d'Angkor Thom: Etude préliminaire." Udaya (Journal of Khmer Studies) 1: 91–124.

Courbin, Paul. 1988. "La fouille du Sras-Srang". Pp. 21–25 and pl. in Documents graphiques de la conservation d'Angkor: 1963–1973, edited by Jacques Dumarçay and Paul Courbin. Collection de textes et documents sur l'Indochine 17. Paris: 1'École Française d'Extrême-Orient.

Sāyan Phraichānčhit (Sayan Phraichanchit). 1988. Rāi ngān kānsamrūat lae khutkhon Tao Mǣnam Nǭi: Tambon Chœng Klat, Amphœ Bang Račhan, Čhangwat Singburī (Report on the survey and excavation of the Maenam Noi kilns, Bang Rachan town, Sing Buri province). Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Chārưk Wilaikǣo (Charuk Wilaykaen). 1990. Tao Mǣnam Nǭi 2 [Maenam Noi Kilns, part 2]. Bangkok: Krom Sinlapākǭn (Fine Arts Department).

Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa [Okinawa Prefecture Center for Buried Cultural Properties], ed. 2001. Shūrijō Kyō-no-uchi ten—Bōeki tōji kara mita dai kōeki jidai [Exhibition on Shuri castle, Kyo-no-uchi—the great age of trade as seen through trade ceramics. Nishihara-cho, Okinawa: Okinawa Kenritsu Maizō Bunkazai Sentaa.

Mukai Kou. 2003. "Tai kokkatsuyū shijiko no bunrui to nendai (The Study on Brown Glazed Storage Jars, exported from Thailand)." Bōeki Tōji Kenkyū (Trade Ceramics Studies) 23: 90–105 (Japanese), 161 (English summary).

Naha Shiritsu Tsuboya Yakimono Hakubutsukan (The Tsuboya Ceramics Museum), ed. 1998. Tōjiki ni miru dai kōki jidai no Okinawa to Ajia [Okinawa and Asia in the great trading age as seen through ceramics]. Naha: Okinawa-ken Naha-shi Kyoiku Iinkai (Okinawa Prefecture Naha City Board of Education].

Brown, Roxanna M., and Sten Sjostrand. 2000. Turiang: A Fourteenth–Century Shipwreck in Southeast Asia. Los Angeles: Pacific Asia Museum.

6. (Louise Cort, 31 January 2008) Green and Harper reported that a number of lids of this type excavated from the Pattaya shipwreck were found to have resin attached to the edge of the upper surface, an indication "that they were used as sealing lids for the medium-sized storage jars [from the Maenam Noi kilns]. The solidified resin suggests that the lid was placed upside down over the mouth of the pot (domed side upwards), and molten resin poured around the joint to seal it" (Green and Harper 1983, 14).

Green, Harper, and Intakosi published a lid with a knob handle excavated from the Ko Si Chang Three shipwreck (KSC3 224) that bore a "potter's cord mark" on the flattened concave side, as did some others of the 142 lids of this type recovered from the wreck (Green et al 1987, 61–62). This evidence that the lids were thrown on the potter's wheel would seem to associate their production with stoneware-making workshops, although women earthenware potters working today in Ayutthaya make use of the potter's wheel in the preliminary stage of their work.

On the Ko Si Chang Three wreck, the lids were concentrated in bulkhead 50–51. "The concentration of so many lids in this area (>50) is significant since there was no correspondingly large number of associated items, such as jars or pots, to which the lids may have belonged. It is therefore assumed that the lids were a cargo item" (Green et al 1987, 47).

Green, Jeremy, and Rosemary Harper. 1983. The Excavation of the Pattaya Wreck Site and Survey of Three Other Sites, Thailand, 1982. Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No. 1. Fremantle: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.

Green, Jeremy, Rosemary Harper, and Vidya Intakosi. 1987. The Ko Si Chang Three Shipwreck Excavation 1986. Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology Special Publication No. 4. Fremantle: Australian Institute for Maritime Archaeology.

7. (Louise Cort, 27 March 2008) A pot of this type is in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (M.74.32.5), where it is said to come from Ayutthaya and dated 15th–17th century. It appears to show no traces of red pigment.

8. (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. Chado Shukin vol. 12. Tokyo: Shogakkan.

9. (Louise Cort, 10 July 2012) Evidence for Burmese "roots" for this type of pot with leaf-shaped stamp-impressed decor in a single band around the neck is offered by the glazed earthenware round-bottomed pot kept in the Historical Museum, Pagan, and illustrated, among other places, in Guy 1989, 9, fig. 9. The repeated motif on the shoulder appears to be divided into two segments of different patterns impressed by separate stamps. Guy describes it as an "impressed leaf pattern" "recorded on Twante pottery of the early Pagan period" (ibid., 8). Another glazed earthenware pot of this type (h. 34 cm) is said to have been found in Java (ibid, 8 and pl. 1). The decor is composed of an elongated leaf-shaped stamp touching the angle of the neck, above a hemispherical form. Guy suggests that the date for both pots is "possibly fourteenth to fifteenth century," the period of active trade contact between Java and Lower Burma (ibid., 9).

An unglazed earthenware round-bottomed pot that had been used as a burial urn is now kept at the Hpaya Gyi Museum, Tavoy (Moore 2009, 127, fig. 8). It appears to bear repeat stamps of pendant pointed (bodhi?) leaves in a single row around the shoulder, as does the adjacent fragment of a pot neck and shoulder. Moore presents this pot in the context of a discussion of the diversity concealed within the "Pyu culture" ascribed to Upper Burma in the first millennium C.E. Of the illustrated pot, Moore comments simply that "the cemetery [from which the pot came] is immediately southeast of the walled site" (ibid., 114). Moore describes but does not illustrate a pot recorded as Vessel 11 from Tagaung, a site yielding "Pyu" finds" during excavations in 1998-2004, that bears repeated stamps of "a four-armed crowned, possibly ancestral figure, with a large face and prominent eyes, flexed knees and flanked by an elephant and bull" (ibid., 114 and 127, fig. 11).

Guy, John. 1989. Ceramic Traditions of South-East Asia. Singapore, Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.

Moore, Elizabeth. "Place and Space in Early Burma: A New Look at 'Pyu Culture'." 2009. Journal of the Siam Society vol. 27:101-128.

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