Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia

Fragment of a stoneware basin with applied decoration. Maenam Noi (Singburi) kiln site, Bang Rachan district, Singburi province, Thailand, 1990. Photograph by Louise Allison Cort.

Ceramic sherds from Southeast Asia



The ceramic material related to Southeast Asia in the Freer Gallery of Art is divided among two collections. The Permanent Collection consists of the objects that can be displayed in the museum's galleries, while the Study Collection contains potsherds, kiln wasters, and complete pieces of lesser quality. As the largest single component of the Study Collection, the ceramics associated with Southeast Asia include over 3300 potsherds from Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, as well as from China and the Middle East, recovered in Southeast Asia from kilns sites, ancient entrepôts and harbors, graves, and consumer sites.

John Pope, director of the Freer Gallery from 1962 to 1971, made a concerted effort to assemble sherds, wasters, and kiln tools for use in study and technical analysis by the museum's Department of Conservation and Scientific Research and by other scholars. Dr. Pope was one of some three dozen donors to the Study Collection. The bulk of the material was donated by interested amateurs, business executives, and U.S. Foreign Service employees who lived and collected in Asia.

One interesting discovery of this review of the Study Collection's ceramics found in Southeast Asia is the relatively limited quantity of Chinese material (approximately 250 examples, about 7.5 percent.) This low percentage seems somewhat surprising. From at least the ninth century, Chinese ceramics were popular trade goods for Southeast Asian consumers, who used and collected these pots and often buried them to accompany the deceased on their next voyage. Chinese celadons and porcelains inspired and stimulated potters in the region.

Their limited numbers notwithstanding, donated Chinese ceramic fragments were found mixed with local wasters and potsherds at kiln sites and in fields and habitation sites throughout Southeast Asia. Victor Hauge (see below) picked up Chinese Ming dynasty porcelain potsherds that were intermingled with contemporaneous Northern Thai (Lan Na) sherds at various Lan Na kiln sites. John Pope found thirteenth-century Longquan celadon and qingbai fragments mixed with Khmer sherds at the royal palace site in Angkor Thom.

The maritime trade that crisscrossed Southeast Asia from the first millennium grew tremendously beginning in the twelfth century. Arab, Persian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian traders bartered ceramics, silk, and iron goods for spices and forest products. The demand was vast. The Southeast Asian trading ship that foundered off Hoi An, Central Vietnam, in the late fifteenth century carried some 750,000 Vietnamese ceramics bound for insular Southeast Asia. Almost all of the ceramic materials in the Study Collection acquired in the Philippines and Indonesia were originally trade goods. On the other hand, much of the Angkorian and Northern Thai material gathered by Victor Hauge was made for domestic consumption and was rarely found far from its place of production.  

There is still much to be understood about historical ceramics in Southeast Asia and the traders who bartered them, but students and scholars of Asian art will be nearer to the answers because of the wealth of material here. This material has come to the Freer Gallery since the 1950s. This listing introduces those who collected it and what they donated. 


Donor:  Dr. Sarah M. Bekker

Date of donation:  1996

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4715–40


Thailand – Ceramics, Iron Age–19th century

            Ayutthaya earthenware, nos. 4729–30

            Kamphaeng Phet, Wat Chang Rob, nos. 4732–37

            Phimai Black ware, no. 4731

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 4724, 4726–28   

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 4717–21, 4725, 4740

            Wat Chalerm Phra Kiat, nos. 4715–16, 4722–23, 4739             

China – Ceramics, 16th century, no. 4738                         

Provenance:  Collected by the donor from various locations in Thailand. 

Biographical note: Dr. Sarah (née McInteer) Bekker, a social psychologist, lived in Burma/Myanmar (1958–61) and Thailand (1964–71) with her husband Konrad, who served in the U.S. Foreign Service. Bekker, a careful scholar of the cultures and arts of Burma and Thailand, has donated Asian works of art to the Freer and Sackler Galleries; the Center for Burmese Studies at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb; the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; The Walters Museum of Art, Baltimore; Denison University, Granville, Ohio; and the University of Wisconsin.  


Donor:  H. Otley Beyer

Date of donation:  1960

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3453–71


Philippines – Ceramics, 17th–18th century

            Manila (Makati) area earthenware, nos. 3453–71 (19 pieces)

Provenance:  Philippines

Biographical note:  Professor Henry Otley Beyer (1883–1966)  was an American anthropologist who was among the first to excavate Thai and Vietnamese ceramics together with Chinese export wares in the Philippines. He spent sixty years in the Philippines and is known as the "Father of Philippine Anthropology." His excavation reports include Chinese, Siamese and Other Oriental Wares in the Philippine Islands (1930).                                           


Donors:  John Callahan and Robert James Sistrunk 

Date of donation:  1998

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4748–49


Thailand – Ceramics, 20th century, nos. 4748–49      

Provenance:  Thailand, ca. 1975

Curatorial note:  These two vessels are twentieth-century copies of prehistoric Ban Chiang earthenware, as verified by thermoluminescence (TL) testing.


Donor:  Dr. Cooper-Smith

Date of donation:  ca. 1963

Accession numbers: FSC-P-530–32


China – Ceramics, 16th–17th century

            Zhangzhou / Swatow, no. 530             

Malaysia – Ceramics, nos. 531–32

Provenance:  Kota Tinggi, Johore State

Biographical note:  No. 530 was found by Peter Williams Hand, who was associated with the Malayan National Museum, Kuala Lumpur in 1952, when he found this blue-and-white potsherd at the ancient port of Kota Tinggi.  


Donor:  John Hadley Cox

Date of donation:  1991

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4140–51


Cambodia – Ceramics, 9th–10th century

            Angkor area, no. 4141 

China – Ceramics, 13th–17th century

            Jingdezhen, no. 4142

            Fujian or Guangdong brown ware, no. 4144

            Dehua, no. 4143           

Thailand – Ceramics, 13th–17th century

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 4145–51              

Vietnam – 12th–14th century

            Red River Delta, no. 4140                         

Provenance:  The "John Hadley Cox Archaeological Study Collection" contains 106 potsherds, of which twelve pieces have a Southeast Asian provenance; the rest were collected in Changsha, China, in 1937. The Cambodia potsherd was acquired near Siem Reap. The Chinese wares were found in the Philippines. The Vietnamese dish was acquired in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City.

Biographical note:  After graduating from Yale University in 1935, John Hadley Cox (b. 1913) traveled to China to teach in the city of Changsha, Hunan province, where he amassed a notable collection of ceramics and other materials from active archaeological sites in the region.


Donor:  Nelly Ducommun       

Date of donation:  1984

Accession number:  FSC-P-2773


China – Ceramics, 19th–20th century

            Jingdezhen or other southern Chinese kiln, no. 2773

Provenance:  This polychromed stem dish made for the Thai market, an example of so-called Bencharong ware, came from a collection formed in Indonesia by the donor's father.


Donor:  Orville Emory

Date of donation:  1965

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-2587–2608


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 2587–2605

            Sukhothai, no. 2606

China – Ceramics, 13th–16th century

            Jingdezhen, no. 2608

            Longquan, no. 2607                  

Provenance:  Thailand


Donor:  Dean F. Frasché

Date of donations:  1984, 1986, 1989

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-2939–78, 3628–32, 3856


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Ban Kruat, nos. 2956–74                       

            Kalong, nos. 2944–55

            Phan, nos. 2941–4

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 2939–40

Burma (Myanmar) – Ceramics


                        Phar Ceti stupa in Mimalaung-Kyaung group, no. 2975

                        Myinkaba village (kiln), nos. 3628–32        

China – Ceramics, 12th–13th century

            qingbai, no. 3856

            not otherwise identified, nos. 2976–78

Provenance:  The donor collected most of the Thai wares at or near their kiln sites. Tile fragments from Burma (Myanmar) were surface finds in Pagan. The Chinese pieces were collected in Thailand.

Biographical note:  Dean Frasché (1906–1994) was an American business executive who spent much of his working life in East Asia. His ceramic interests started in the 1930s in the Philippines, where he was employed as a surveyor for the Belgian government. After World War II he ran Union Carbide Corporation's tin mining operations in Thailand.  Frasché curated Southeast Asian Ceramics: Ninth through Seventeenth Century, the first major exhibition of Southeast Asian ceramics in the United States, at the Asia Society, New York City, in 1976, and also authored the catalogue of the exhibition. 


Donors:  Mr. and Mrs. Roy Galloway

Date of donation:  1999

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4750–72


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Ban Thung Hua, no. 4750

            Ban Kruat, nos. 4751–59, 4762–72                     

China – Ceramics, 12th–14th century      

            Jingdezhen (qingbai), nos. 4760–61

Provenance:  The Ban Thung Hua sherd was collected by the donor at its kiln site in Northern Thailand in 1974. The Ban Kruat and Chinese pieces were collected by the donor during three trips in 1973 to the Ban Kruat kiln site in Northeast Thailand.

Biographical note:  J. R. (Roy) Galloway (b. 1914) worked in Asia as a businessman both before and after World War II. During the war he served on General Douglas MacArthur's staff. He was a colleague and close friend of Dean Frasché, and several of Galloway's stonewares from a little-known kiln that he and Frasché found at Ban Thung Hua, in Northern Thailand, were included in Frasché's 1976 Asia Society exhibition, Southeast Asian Ceramics: Ninth through Seventeenth Century.


Donor:  Robert P. Griffing, Jr.

Date of donation: unknown

Accession no. FSC-P-2807


Vietnam – Ceramics, 15th–16th century

            Red River Delta, no. 2807

Provenance:  Gift from Griffing to John Pope.

Biographical note:  An art historian, Robert Griffing was director of the Honolulu Academy of Arts from 1947 until 1963. His article "Dating Annamese Blue and White" in Orientations (May 1976) was an important early statement on Vietnamese ceramics. He classified underglaze blue-and-white stonewares of the late fifteenth and sixteenth century from the Red River Delta of North Vietnam and publicized the existence of this beautiful ware as a type quite separate from Chinese porcelain. Griffing also curated the 1968 exhibition The Art of the Korean Potter (New York: Asia Society).


Donors:  Victor and Takako Hauge 

Dates of donations:  1996–2005

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4290–4714, 4857–6770, 6773


Thailand – Ceramics, 11th–20th century

           Ban Kruat, nos. 4290–4714, 5906–6233, 6773

           Chiang Mai (20th century), no. 6764                  

            Kalong, nos. 5888, 6351, 6398–6654, 6755

            Lampang, nos. 6235–6285

            Phan, nos. 4864, 4873–5030, 5032–48, 6660–6721, 6726–54, 6761–63

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 6286–6350, 6655–57, 6659, 6756, 6758–60

            San Sai, nos. 5435–55

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 4660–93, 4704, 5578–5622, 5625–83, 6354–57, 6359–64, 6366–97

            Sukhothai, nos. 4857–63, 4865–72, 5823–87, 5889–5905, 6352–53, 6765–70, 6658

            Wang Nua, nos. 5684–5793, 5795–5822, 6495

            Fields near U Thong, Suphanburi province, nos. 5051–5278, 62

            Habitation sites near Chiang Rai, Chiang Rai province, nos. 5279–5434                                                

China – Ceramics, 15th–18th century

            Jingdezhen, nos. 5031, 5049–50 (from U Thong habitation site), 5623–24, 5794, 6722–25

            Celadon not otherwise identified, nos. 6358, 6365 (found at Si Satchanalai Sawankhalok)

Vietnam – Ceramic, 19th–20th century            

            Saigon vicinity, no. 6757 (mask from shoulder of storage jar)                  

Provenance:  FSC-P-4290–4714 (425 pieces) were collected by Victor Hauge during a single visit to the kiln sites surrounding the district town of Ban Kruat in Buriram province, Northeast Thailand, in 1972. FSC-P-4857–6770 (1914 pieces) were collected by Victor Hauge during personal visits to the kiln sites during 1970–72, when Victor's older brother Osborne and his wife Gratia were living in Bangkok.

Curatorial note:  Chinese blue-and-white porcelain potsherds were found intermingled with contemporaneous sherds of Northern Thai (Lan Na) ceramics at kiln and habitation sites. For example, a Chinese blue-and-white sherd (No. 5794) was picked up at the Wang Nua kiln site.  Most of the sherds from near U Thong are unglazed and glazed earthenware sherds of cooking jars and other domestic wares.  The sherds from near Chiang Rai consist largely of fine stoneware potsherds-brown-painted Kalong ware, Wang Nua celadon, and painted San Kamphaeng ware.

Biographical note:  See next entry.


Donors:  Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge

Date of donation:  2005

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-6783–99


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–17th century

            Kalong, no. 6786

            Maenam Noi, no.6788

            Phan, nos. 6792, 6795

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 6783, 6790–91, 6793, 6796

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 6789, 6794, 6797

            Chiang Mai, no. 6798

            Wang Nua, nos. 6784–85, 678

Vietnam – Ceramics, 18th–20th century

            Central Vietnam, no. 6799

Provenance:  The Thai sherds were collected by Victor Hauge during visits to the kiln sites in 1970-72.  The Vietnamese sherd was acquired while Osborne and Gratia Hauge were living in Saigon.

Biographical note:  Victor and Takako Hauge and Osborne "Bud" Hauge (1914–2004) and Gratia Hauge (d. 2000) jointly made major gifts of ancient Iranian, Islamic and Southeast Asian ceramics to the Sackler Gallery. The Hauges formed these collections during the 1960s and early 1970s. The two brothers, who were born in Minnesota and graduated from St. Olaf College, were a part of the American Occupation in Japan after World War II. Osborne served in the U.S. Administration for International Development (USAID) from 1961 to 1974, based in Tehran, Bangkok, and Saigon. Victor lived in Japan, working for the U.S. Information Service, until the late 1950s. He and Takako co-authored Folk Traditions in Japanese Art, Tokyo and New York (1978), the catalogue for the 1979 exhibition at the Asia Society, New York, and the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco. 


Donor:  Fujiwara Hiroshi

Date of donation:  1997

Accession number:  FSC-P-4743


Thailand – Ceramics, 11th–12th century     

            Ban Kruat, no. 4743                      

Provenance:  Acquired in the early 1980s, probably in Bangkok.

Biographical note:  Mr. Fujiwara lived in Bangkok in the early 1980s, when Angkor period ceramics (and their copies) were widely available in the antiques market in Thailand. He arranged for this sherd of a "two color" jar to be sliced in order to understand how the ware was made; the cut revealed that two clay bodies of different colors were used in combination with two different glazes.             


Donor:  Jack H. Kent

Date of donation:  1986

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3642–3645


Vietnam – Ceramics, 13th–15th century      

            Red River Delta, nos. 3642–44           

Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–15th century

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), no. 3645


Donor:  Ann S. Ling

Date of donation:  2004

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-6780–81


China – Ceramics, 16th–17th century

            Zhangzhou, nos. 6780–81

            (2 mold-formed covered boxes)

Provenance:  Acquired by Helen D. Ling (see below) during her residence in Singapore, 1951–82. These boxes appeared in the exhibition of the Ling collection and were published in the catalogue, Helen D. Ling Collection of Chinese Ceramics, ed. by Jason Kuo (College Park, MD: The Art Gallery, University of Maryland, 1995).

Biographical note:  Ann Ling is the daughter-in-law of Helen D. Ling and a docent at the Freer and Sackler Galleries.   


Donor:  Helen Dalling Ling

Date of donation:  ca. 1986

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-979–1015


China – Ceramics, Ming and Qing dynasty wares

            celadon, no. 979

            blue-and-white, nos. 980–1006               

Malaysia – Ceramics

            Malayan stamped earthenware, nos. 1007–12

Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century            

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 1013–15

Provenance:  Helen Ling found these potsherds in 1955 at Kota Tinggi, Johore, also known as Johor Lama (Old Johore), an old trading port in south Malaysia.

Curatorial Note:  The Malayan stamped earthenware potsherds found at Kota Tinggi are similar to Neolithic pottery excavated in Fujian province, south China. Ling's potsherds, however, were found mixed with blue-and-white Ming and Qing Chinese and Thai export wares in an unstratified site subject to frequent flooding. Similar earthenwares were being made in Johore until the nineteenth century.

Biographical note:  Mrs. Helen (née Dalling) Ling (1901–1982) was a collector, dealer and connoisseur of Chinese art. Born in Ohio, in 1928 she married Tien-Gi Ling, a Chinese research chemist. They lived in South China, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Ling operated antique and gift shops in Shanghai from 1938 to 1950 and in Singapore from 1953 until her death in 1982.  She was a co-founder of the Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, Singapore, in 1971. 


Donors:  Cecilia and Leandro Locsin

Dates of donations:  1964, 1968, 1978

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-2698, 3561–76


China – Ceramics, 10th–14th century

            Dehua, no. 3576                    

            Earthenware with lead glazes, nos. 3569, 3571          

            Fujian Song or pre-Song gray ware, nos. 3562–64, 3566–68, 3570, 3572–74        


                        qingbai (copper-red spotted), no. 2698

                        qingbai (unpainted), no. 3561         

            not otherwise identified, no. 3565  

Vietnam – Ceramics, 15th–16th century

            Red River Delta, no. 3575              

Provenance:  Most of the pieces were excavated in the Philippines in the early 1960s, at sites including the Santa Ana site near Manila, and were given by the Locsins to John Pope in 1964.

Biographical note:  The Locsin Collection represents one of the greatest private collections of export ceramics of China and Southeast Asia (Locsin and Locsin 1967). It was formed over many years, starting in the 1960s, from excavations in the Philippines and purchases from dealers in the Philippines, Hong Kong, and Indonesia.


Donor:  Elizabeth Lyons

Date of donation:  1963

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-624–31


China – Ceramics, 15th–16th century

            Jingdezhen, nos. 624–31             

Provenance:  Recovered from the bed of the Chao Phraya River at Ayutthaya, the former capital of Siam (Thailand). Ayutthaya was a major international trading port during the fourteenth through eighteenth century.

Biographical note:  Elizabeth Lyons was an archaeologist and museum administrator specializing in Southeast Asia. She first went to Thailand in 1955 as a Fine Arts Consultant under a U.S. Department of State program. She was a frequent visitor to Thai archaeological sites in the 1960s while associated with the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and later with the Ford Foundation. The university worked closely with the Thai Department of Fine Arts, Bangkok, on several prehistoric excavation sites. Lyons was a key actor in putting together the important joint Thai-University of Pennsylvania Ban Chiang expedition in 1974. She also served as director of the University Museum. In the early 1980s she was Research Associate for Southeast Asia and China at the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania.


Donor:   Dr. Forrest McGill

Date of donation:  1990

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3891–3904, 3905–3932                                               


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), no. 3891   

Burma (Myanmar) – Ceramics

            Pagan, nos. 3892–3904           

Holland – Ceramics, nos. 3905-32 

Provenance:  The Burmese pieces were surface finds in Pagan, circa 1971. The Dutch Delft-type blue-and-white tile fragments were surface finds at the ruins of the Wihan Somdet Palace, Ayutthaya, 1975–76.            

Biographical note:  Dr. Forrest McGill is Chief Curator and Wallis Curator of South and Southeast Asian Art at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. He received his Ph.D. in Asian art from the University of Michigan and was a professor and curator of Asian art, including a stint as Assistant Director of the Freer and Sackler galleries, for twenty-five years before joining the Asian Art Museum in 1997. He authored or co-authored a number of scholarly publications on Asian art, including The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand (San Francisco, 2004).


Donor:  Sherry Matz

Date of donation:  1994

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4254–55


Vietnam – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Red River Delta, nos. 4254–55             

Provenance:  Acquired in Indonesia in the 1960s.


Donor:   John R. Menke

Dates of donations:  1985, 1986

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3452, 3646–88, 4773


Thailand – Ceramics, 11th–16th century

            Ban Kruat, no. 3452

            Kalong, nos. 3675–80

            Phan, nos. 3684–88 

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 3681–83

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 3646–61

            Sukhothai, nos. 3662–74     

China – Ceramics, early 17th century

            Jingdezhen (bleu de Hue), no. 4773             

Provenance:  No. 3452 was acquired in Cambodia. Nos. 3646–74 were surface finds at the kilns in Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok) and Sukhothai in 1985. Nos. 3675–83 were gifts to the donor from John Shaw, ceramics scholar and author of the major text on Northern Thai ceramics (see entry below). Nos. 3684–88, Phan ware, were surface finds at the Ban Pong Sali arboretum, ten kilometers south of Chiang Rai.

Biographical note:  John and Betty Menke donated major examples of Northern Vietnamese ceramics to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Freer Gallery of Art. As a nuclear physicist, Mr. Menke worked in Southeast Asia on acquisition of uranium and formed much of his collection of Southeast Asian ceramics at that time. He was a close friend of Robert Griffing of the Honolulu Academy of Arts.


Donor:  National Museum of Bangkok

Date of donation:  1960 or 1961

Accession number:  FSC-P-960


China – Ceramics, Song dynasty, no. 960

            Fujian province, possibly Dehua

Provenance:  Excavated at Phimai, Thailand, and subsequently given to John Pope.


Donor:  Stanley J. O'Conner

Date of donation:  1966

Accession number:  FSC-P-2697


China – Ceramics, Yuan dynasty, 13th century

            Jingdezhen (qingbai), no. 2697

Provenance:  Surface find at Sating Prah, on the east coast of peninsular Thailand, about thirty miles north of Songkhla. 

Biographical note:  Stanley J. O'Conner is professor emeritus of art history and was also a member of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Interested in the emergence of Hindu and Buddhist art in early Southeast Asia, he conducted research in Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. 


Donor:  Mrs. Gardner Palmer

Date of donation:  November 1983

Accession number:  FSC-P-2786


China – Ceramics, Qing dynasty, 18th–19th century

            bleu de Hue, no. 2786

Provenance:  unknown.

Curatorial note:  This porcelain dish decorated with underglaze cobalt was probably made for the Vietnamese market. It is an example of "later" bleu of Hue probably made in Fujian or Guangdong province for the ordinary Vietnamese consumer, not for the royal court or the mandarinate.


Donor:  John Alexander Pope

Dates of donations:  various, including 1957, 1978 

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-442–66, 942, 950–51, 2250–2586, 2725, 2727–35, 2802–04, 2930, 2934–38, 3271–86, 3499, 3501–60


China – Ceramics, 8th–16th century  

            Jingdezhen, nos. 950–51, 2310–11, 2382

                        qingbai, nos. 446–7, 449, 2803, 3517, 3521, 3549–50, 3553

                         blue-and-white, nos. 2539–42, 2802, 3283–8

            Longquan, nos: 444, 451–53, 455, 457–58, 463, 3540

                          Guangdong province, nos. 445, 454

                                   Fujian province, no. 2383

            Modern, no. 3499

            Celadon or green glaze, nos. 3511–14, 3516, 3518–19, 3523–39, 3541–46

            White glaze, nos. 3547–48, 3551–52

not otherwise identified, nos. 442–43, 448, 450, 461, 464, 2930, 3273–82, 3501–10, 3515, 3520, 3522, 3557–60       

Malaysia – Ceramics

            Sarawak earthenware, nos. 3554–56

Middle East – Ceramics, nos. 3271–72        

Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century 

            Ban Kruat, Buriram, nos. 456, 459–60, 465–66, 942

            Kalong, no. 2731

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 2435–2538, 2543–86, 2725, 2727–30, 2732–35, 2937–38

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 462, 2278–2309, 2312–81, 2384–2434, 2804, 2935–36

            Sukhothai, nos. 2250–77, 2935–36

Provenance:  The Chinese ceramics were collected in Angkor, Cambodia (Nos. 442–66, 942, 950), Jakarta (No. 951), Palau Kra Island, Sarawak, Malaysia (Nos. 3501–60), Laguna site, Philippines (No. 2930), Ko Kha Kao island, Thailand (Nos. 3273–86), and Thailand (No. 3499). The Thai ceramics were collected at the kiln sites in February 1957.                        

Curatorial notes:  The Chinese blue-and-white potsherd No. 950 was collected by Pope in 1957 at Phnom Bakheng, Angkor, Cambodia. From the pool by the royal palace site in Angkor Thom, Pope collected Nos. 442–466 and 942, including Chinese celadon and qingbai and Thai sherds intermingled with Khmer glazed stoneware fragments. Large numbers of Chinese ceramics have been uncovered in Khmer habitation areas in and around Angkor, supporting the view of archaeologists and art historians that Chinese ceramics were an important trade item for Khmer Empire inhabitants. 

The Middle Eastern pieces (Nos. 3271–72) are small fragments with molded design under turquoise glaze. They are part of a group (Nos. 3271–86) collected by Dean Frasché in 1965 on Ko Kha Kao island and subsequently given to Pope. The sherds include Middle Eastern and Chinese material dating to the Tang dynasty. They suggest the important maritime trade that had sprung up at least by the eighth century for trade goods, including ceramics, linking Persia and Egypt, India, Southeast Asia and south Chinese ports like Canton (Guangdong). For details on this island see Federation Museum Journal, vol. VI, 1961 (Kuala Lumpur: Museums Department,  Federation of Malaya).

Biographical note:  John Alexander Pope, Ph.D. (1906–1982), museum administrator and art historian, had a long association with the Freer Gallery of Art, serving as director from 1962 to 1971. He is known for his two pioneering studies of early Chinese blue-and-white porcelain, Fourteenth Century Blue and White (1952) and Chinese Porcelains from the Ardebil Shrine (1956).


Donor:  Mrs. John A. Pope

Date of donation:  1997

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4746–47


China – Ceramics, Yuan dynasty, 14th century

            Jingdezhen, nos. 4746–47

                        qingbai with cobalt decoration

Provenance:  These two porcelain jarlets were in the collection of John A. Pope, who probably acquired them in the Philippines when he attended the Trade Ceramics Seminar in Manila in 1968.


Donor:   Abu Ridho

Date of donation:  1957 

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-425–441


Vietnam – Ceramics, 15th–16th century

            Red River Delta, nos. 425–34, 438, 440–4

China – Ceramics, 9th–14th  century

            Jingdezhen, no. 435

            Chiung-Lai kiln, Szechwan province, no. 439               

Middle East, no. 436


Not otherwise identified, no. 437

            stoneware, origin unknown

Provenance:  Jakarta, Indonesia, given by National Museum curator Abu Ridho to John Pope. The five Vietnamese wall tile fragments were excavated at an unknown date in Java at Trowulan, the old capital of the Majapahit Empire (Eastern Java, 1293 to 1527). After the empire's demise, unbroken wall tiles probably were removed to other buildings; several still decorate mosques in east and central Java.

Biographical note:  Long-time curator of the National Museum, Jakarta, Abu Ridho (b. 1927) was educated as an archaeologist in Jakarta at the University of Benteng Utara and the University of Indonesia. He is author of a number of books and articles on ceramics found in Indonesia, including Annamese Ceramics in Museum Pusat (1974, with Cheng Lammers); Oriental Ceramics, The World's Great Collections, Vol. 3, Museum Pusat, (1977); Tempayan - Martabans in Indonesia (1984, with Sumarah Adhyatman); and The Pulau Buaya Wreck - Finds from the Song period (1998, with E. Edwards McKinnon).


Donor:  Miriam McNair Scott

Date of donations:  1981, 1990

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-2714–24, 3884–89


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Kalong, nos. 2714–24

            Phan, nos. 3884–89    

Provenance:  Collected by the donor at the Kalong kiln site and possibly at the Phan kiln site, in Northern Thailand.

Biographical note:  Mrs. Scott (d. 1989) lived in Thailand for many years. She was the author of The Art of Sukhothai: Thailand's Golden Age (1981, with Carol Stratton), and her manuscript co-written with Carol Stratton was the basis for Buddhist Sculpture of Northern Thailand, by Carol Stratton (2004).


Donor:  John C. Shaw

Date of donation:  1987

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3837–51, 3853


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century

            Late Haripunchai (Lamphun), no. 3851

            Kalong, nos. 3837–43, 3853                       

            Lampang, no. 3850

            Nan, no. 3849

            Phan, no. 3848

            Phayao, nos. 3844–46

            San Sai, no. 3847                            

Provenance:  Collected at kiln sites in Northern Thailand by the donor.

Biographical note:  John Shaw is a businessman and long-time resident of Chiang Mai, Thailand. He is the author of several books on ceramics, including the most important text in English on the wares and kilns in Northern Thailand, Northern Thai Ceramics (1981, 2008).


Donor:  Mrs. M. Siber

Date of donation:  1973

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-2809–2914


Chinese – Ceramics, 13th–17th century

            Various types, not otherwise identified, nos. 2809–2914

Provenance:  Collected by the donor on a beach about twenty minutes outside Manila, Philippines.


Donor:   Dorothy Slak

Date of donation:  1986

Accession number:  FSC-P-3689


Chinese – Ceramics, 19th–20th century

            Jingdezhen, no. 3689

Provenance:  Acquired in Jakarta, Indonesia, late 1960s.  

Biographical note:  Dorothy Slak served in the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta in the 1960s, a time when it was possible to acquire good quality old Chinese and Southeast Asian trade ceramics. Like others at this time in Indonesia, Slak was influenced by Jack Wilson Lydman (d. 2006), a senior U.S. diplomat who had three Indonesian tours and was a major collector of ceramics found there. A number of Slak's gifts of ceramics found in Indonesia are in the  Freer Gallery's Permanent Collection.  


Donor:   Mary Slusser

Date of Donation:  2003

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-6775–77


Cambodia – Ceramics, 9th–12th century

            Phnom Kulen, no. 6776

China – Ceramics, 12th–13th century

            Provincial kiln in southeast

            China, probably Fujian, no. 6777

Thailand – Ceramics, 11th–14th century, no. 6775

            Buriram province

Provenance:  Acquired in Cambodia within the precincts of Angkor Wat, 1954–57. The donor purchased these three jarlets from a workman who had just found them as he was cleaning out the two rectangular pools that flank the causeway leading to the temple. 

Biographical note:  Mary Shephard Slusser, an anthropologist and archaeologist, and her husband Robert, who worked with USAID, lived in Saigon/Ho Chi Minh City during 1954–57 and visited Angkor many times during that interlude. The Slussers subsequently lived in Nepal, where Mary became a founding board member of Kathmandu Valley Preservation Trust.  Her scholarship, including Nepal Mandala (1981, 1998), has documented the valley's art and architecture. She is a research associate at the Freer and Sackler galleries.


Donor:   Mrs. Walter (Carol) Snowden

Date of donation:  1977

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-3301–02


Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century     

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok), nos. 3301–02

Provenance:    Kiln site surface finds at Si Satchanalai, Thailand.

Biographical note:  Mrs. Snowden was living in Bangkok when she collected these tubular supports, examples of kiln furniture. 


Donor:   Mrs. and Mr. Robert E. Snyder

Date of donation: 1997

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-4270–71


China or Vietnam – Ceramics, 18th–20th century, nos. 4270–71        

Provenance:  Purchased by the donors in Pakse, Laos, in 1974 from peddlers living in the nearby upland area.

Curatorial note:  Acquisition of these storage jars from members of communities living in the uplands of southern Laos makes quite possible their manufacture at a kiln in Central or Southern Vietnam, which would have been the nearest source of ceramic jars for landlocked Laos. The jars were sold to the Snyders by peddlers coming down from the highlands of the Bolivan plateau. They did not learn exactly where the jars came from.

Biographical note:  Robert Snyder and his wife lived in Laos from 1966 to 1975, first in Pakse, then in Vientiane. Mr. Snyder worked for the U.S. highway department as a maintenance specialist on loan to USAID to maintain the road systems, including de-mining and repairing bridges in the southern provinces. His wife worked for the Philippine-run hospital.


Donor:   Charles Nelson Spinks 

Dates of donations:  various, including 1969

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-401–24, 955–59, 3486–98, 3500, 3577–3608, 4744–45


Thailand – Ceramics, 11th–13th century

            Buriram province, nos. 3500, 4744           

Thailand – Ceramics, 14th–16th century and modern

            Ayutthaya (modern), nos. 3605–06

            Phan, nos. 3590–3602

            San Kamphaeng, nos. 404, 406, 408, 410–19, 422–24, 3603–04            

            Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok)                                

                        Ban Koh Noi, nos. 401–3

                        Ban Pa Yang, nos. 405, 409, 420

                        "Chaliang", no. 421

                        not otherwise identified, nos. 3487–90, 3577–86, 4745

             Sukhothai, nos. 407, 3486, 3491–98, 3587–8             

China – Ceramics, Ming to modern period

            Guangdong, no. 3589

            Blue-and-white, nos. 955–57

            not otherwise identified, nos. 958–59                     

Provenance:  The sherds were collected from kiln sites or as other surface finds in Thailand. The Chinese potsherds, Nos. 955–59, were collected at Wat Maha That, in Ayutthaya, the old capital of Siam/Thailand and a major international trading center from the fourteenth through eighteenth century.

Curatorial note:  Chaliang is an earlier term for Si Satchanalai (Sawankhalok) brown-glazed wares but is no longer used. Spinks did not otherwise identify the kiln of this Chalieng piece.

Biographical note:  Charles Nelson Spinks, Ph.D. (Stanford University, History Department) (1906–1980), was an author and art historian. Spinks spent eighteen years in the American foreign service as an officer of the U.S. Information Service (USIS), including two long postings at the American embassy in Bangkok. Before World War II  he taught at the University of Commerce, Tokyo. His publications include Siamese Pottery in Indonesia (1959) and The Ceramic Wares of Siam (1965).


Donor:   Maria Worthington

Date of donation:  1968

Accession number:  FSC-P-954


China – Ceramics, 13th–14th century

            Jingdezhen, blue-and-white, no. 954

Provenance:  Philippines

Biographical note:  Maria Worthington lived in the Philippines with her husband, Amos, who worked for the U.S. foreign assistance program. She collected Asian ceramics and eventually dealt in Asian antiques when she returned to the U.S.


Donor:   Unrecorded

Date of donation:   unknown

Accession numbers:  FSC-P-39–40


Vietnam – Ceramics, 15th–16th century

            Red River Delta, nos.  39–40                       

Provenance:  Found in the middens of Old Cairo (Fostat).

Curatorial note:  Fostat was the first capital of Egypt under Arab rule. Built in 641, the city reached its peak in the twelfth century, with a population of approximately 200,000. Fostat was the center of administrative power in Egypt until its vizier ordered it burned in 1168 in order to keep its wealth out of the hands of the invading Crusaders. The remains of the city were eventually absorbed by nearby Cairo. Numerous archaeological excavations in Fostat have revealed the wealth of its buried material. The Fostat middens are an important source evidencing the sizeable Middle East-China trade. Tons of ceramic potsherds have been harvested from this old rubbish dump. While the vast majority are Islamic, many Chinese potsherds have also been recovered. The discovery of North Vietnamese blue-and-white stonewares documents that Vietnam wares were also part of this China-Middle East trade.



Copyright, Smithsonian Institution, 2008.  Citations of this electronic publication should be made in the following manner: 

David P. Rehfuss, "Ceramic Sherds from Southeast Asia—The Freer Study Collection and its Donors," Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia: Collections in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, 2008, http://SEAsianCeramics.asia.si.edu



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