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

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Water storage jar

  • Earthenware
  • 30.7 x 38.4 cm
  • 19th-mid 20th century, 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
  • S2005.368

Description

Jar of ovoid form with broad shoulder tapering towards the flat base, short neck and rounded lip.
Clay: orange earthenware.
Glaze: none.
Decoration: a circular band of flower petals is incised on the shoulder.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, July 30, 2002) Mon water jar, Ko Kret (dense and heavy for its size).

2. (Louise Cort, 21 July 2003) Jars of this type were made by potters of Mon ethnicity at Ko Kret and in other settlements along the Chao Phraya between Ayutthaya and Bangkok. For information on the Mon potters' settlements along the river, see S1994.16. Jars of this type, in larger sizes (called "klong jars" by the foreigners living in Bangkok, and used to store rainwater), could still be found in back streets along the river when I first went to Bangkok in 1989–90, so this jar may not be terribly old. The large jars still appeared in a photograph of a work shed on the island taken circa 1975 (Polissar 1975, 33). The large jars were replaced in recent decades by the stoneware jars made in Chinese-operated factories in Ratchaburi.

Polissar, Jerrilynn C. 1975. "A Pottery in Thailand." Ceramics Monthly 23: 30–35.

3. (Louise Cort, 21 August 2003) In 1922 W. A. Graham wrote: "The ware of Pakret and neighborhood is too well known to need description. It consists largely of the big water-jars in which before the days of condensers, artesian wells and water-works, we used to store water collected in the wet season for use during the dry. I remember about a hundred of them standing in the space under the British Legation! Also in those unsophisticated times, one of them with a ladle or dipper, formed the sole appliance for the bath." (Rooney ed. 1986, 24). This jar of smaller size was probably used in the kitchen for storage of water for immediate use. The walls are worn from prolonged use.

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.

4. (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 production of large red water storage jars at the Ko Kret kilns ceased around fifty years ago, or circa 2500 (1957), in the face of competition from the cheaper glazed stoneware water jars made at the kilns in Ratchburi.


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