Drinking-water jar with stamped decoration

  • Earthenware
  • 21.9 x 31.4 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
  • S2005.367

Description

Jar of flattened ovoid shape with stamped decor, attached foot

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 19 May 2005) With its elaborate impressed or stamped decoration, this is a type of jar associated with potters of Mon ethnicity, related to the stamp-decorated jars produced at Ko Kret. Perhaps it is the product of one of the communities of Mon potters formerly active along the Chao Phraya river between Ayutthaya and Bangkok.

The footrim is attached.

2. (Louise Cort, 31 January 2008) The spidery gray accretions on the neck are clear evidence, according to Dr. Sarah Bekker, that this vessel was submerged in the Chao Phraya River.

3. (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.

4. (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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