Vietnamese / Storage Jar / 15th-16th centuryVietnamese
Storage Jar
15th-16th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Southeast Asian; Vietnamese
Creator Name-CRT: Vietnamese
Title: Storage Jar
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1400
Creation End Date: 1599
Creation Date: 15th-16th century
Creation Place: Vietnam, possibly Champa
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware with incised design under glaze (Go-Sanh ware)
Dimensions: H. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm); D. 12 in. (30.5 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.096
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The history of pottery in Southeast Asia reflects complicated relationships among the ceramics of the region's different countries and peoples, as well as with the ceramics of China to the north. This stunning jar dating from the 15th to 16th centuries illustrates some of the similarities and differences between Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics. The shape of the jar and in particular the presence of four lugs on the shoulders can be loosely related to several traditional Chinese forms such as the so-called martaban jars that were used to export pickles and wine from China to all of Southeast Asia. The lugs were most likely used to tie down some type of cover, suggesting that this jar was used for storage as well. In addition, the decoration of chrysanthemums incised beneath the glaze is a longstanding motif in Chinese art, often used as a symbol of longevity. The free-flowing treatment of the flowers and leaves, however, is distinctive and has no parallels in Chinese art.

This jar has generally been classified as Vietnamese because of its brown glaze, as ceramics covered with this type of glaze were made in some number in that part of mainland Southeast Asia. The sketchy flowers and leaves incised underneath the glaze, however, do not commonly appear on other examples of early Vietnamese ceramics, most of which are believed to have been produced in northern Vietnam. In addition, works from northern Vietnam have heavier bodies and thicker glazes than this jar. Shards discovered in 1974 near the unexcavated kiln site at Go-Sanh and nearby villages in central Vietnam, though, provide interesting parallels to this jar's body and decorative method. Very thinly potted stonewares with reddish bodies and translucent caramel-colored glazes--both of which this jar shares--were among the type of ceramics found at Go-Sanh. Some of these ceramics also have very indistinct decoration that parallels the sketchy flowers incised here.

These parallels suggest that the jar may be an example of ceramics produced in central rather than northern Vietnam. From about the 3rd century to 1471, this area was controlled by the kingdom of Champa, one of the most important but little-studied kingdoms in the history of mainland Southeast Asia. The strategic location of Champa along the southeastern Vietnamese coast made it an important component of the trade in luxury goods that linked mainland Southeast Asia with the islands of Indonesia, China, and other parts of the world from at least the 8th century onward. Ceramics similar to fragments found at Go-Sanh have been found in the Philippines and Indonesia, linking this kiln site to international trade; they are also known to have been treasured family heirlooms, passing through generations as ritual objects in some areas of Southeast Asia.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 46.
Related Document Description: Frasché, Dean F. Southeast Asian Ceramics: Ninth Through Seventeenth Centuries. New York: Asia Society in association with John Weatherhill, 1986, pp. 94, 99, 138.
Related Document Description: Sutton, Denys. 'Search for Perfection.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 365.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.096
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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