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

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Pot rest

  • Earthenware
  • 16 x 33.4 cm
  • 16th-mid 20th century, Ayutthaya period or Bangkok period
  • Origin: Chao Phraya River network, Central Thailand
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.415


Pot rest with trough for water

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Louise Cort, 12 July 2006) According to Dr. Luu Hung and Mrs. Nguyen Thi Hong Mai, Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi, they have never seen vessels of this shape in Vietnam. 

Note that the vessel is wheel-thrown and assembled from component parts. Ayutthaya, where women potters throw preforms for round-bottomed earthenware pots on the wheel, would be a possible place of manufacture.

2. (Louise Cort, 27 October 2014) The designation of this vessel as a pot rest is made on the assumption that the shallow dish, filled with water, could have protected from crawling insects a pot full of cooked food or raw materials such as palm sugar placed on the tall cylinder. The attribution to Thailand was made in part on the basis of the statement by two Vietnamese ethnographers (note 1) that this vessel form was unfamiliar to them.

However, a somewhat related vessel form, consisting of a wide shallow basin with upright walls (approx. diam. 16 c, height 5.5 mc), with a cylindrical "funnel" (approx. diam. 3 cm) attached to the center of the basin floor, was published by Janse (1947, vol. 1, pl. 109, no. 1).Made of white earthenware, it was found in a "Han" tomb in the Bi'm-so'n graveyard, Ha Trung district, Thanh Hoa province. Janse described it as a "cooking vessel provided in the centre with a 'funnel," but he did not describe the lower structure of the funnel and whether it was open through the basin floor or was attached to the closed floor. The everted rim of the basis had four equally-spaced small holes "for suspension." This feature suggests that the vessel could have been used for safe storage of foodstuffs with suspension protecting the contents of the pot from rodents and other animals, in addition to the pool of water warding off crawling insects.

In the same volume, however, Janse also illustrated a line drawing of a vessel much closer in the relative proportions of the two cylinders to S2005.415 (ibid., p. 40, fig. 47). He had excavated it in 1937 from a kitchen midden at the C'au-gia't, Nghe An province, which lay beneath a layer containing fragments of Song pottery. Janse termed this vessel a lamp and described the material as red ware. He described the "lamp" (putting the term in quotes, indicating a tentative identification) as a "rude hollow cylinder in the centre of a dish," adding that it "could probably also be considered as an incense burner," comparable to one he had excavated from a tomb in Bac Ninh province (ibid., p. 40).

Janse, Olov R. T.1947. Archaeological Research in Indo-China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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