Pillow in the form of a tortoise

Detail of a pattern
Image 1 of 3

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At A Glance

  • Period

    late 14th-15th century
  • Geography

    Red River Delta kilns, Hai Duong province, Vietnam
  • Material

    Stoneware with iron pigment under translucent (underfired) glaze, iron pigment on base
  • Dimension

    H x W x D: 9.8 x 12.1 x 16.7 cm (3 7/8 x 4 3/4 x 6 9/16 in)
  • Accession Number



Object Details

  • Description

    Pillow in the form of a tortoise, head turned upward, the feet shown in paddling motion. The carapace hexagonal plates are modelled, the divisions incised. The shell is surmounted by a narrow concave head-rest with lobed ends and a small hole in the center, on a base decorated with a carved scroll. This element, the head, tail, and legs were separately applied. The skin folds below the carapace are modelled. A hole was made in the unglazed flat base near the tail end. A brown iron oxide wash covers the base, the "chocolate base" common on Vietnamese ceramics. There is a repaired break at one end of the head-rest, which is seen on the underside.
    Clay: dense, light gray stoneware.
    Glaze: clear, bubbled, slightly crackled over white slip and iron painting. Some glaze separation, particularly on areas where appendages and superstructure were attached. No glaze on top of head-rest. A line of paint on a strip of slip shows indistinctly around its edge. Small glaze chip on edge of head-rest. Some glaze worn off on claws of three of the feet.
    Decoration: paired iron-oxide brush strokes on each plate of carapace and other iron brown underglaze details, e.g., wrinkles on the animal's neck.
    With wooden stand.
  • Provenance

    Excavated in Bangkok in 1943 [1]
    To 1985
    Dean Frasché, Greenwich, CT, to 1985 [2]
    From 1985
    Freer Gallery of Art, given by Dean Frasché in 1985
    [1] The object was found during the removal of the ruins of an ancient Buddhist wat on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River, some 700 meters south of the present Oriental Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand (see Curatorial Note 1, J.H. Knapp, 1986, in object record).
    According to the donor (his information having come from the Thai-Chinese gentleman from whom he acquired the piece), the abandoned wat where the object was found was demolished and the site excavated in the process of building an unloading dock; the name of the wat was not recorded (see Curatorial Note 2, L.A. Cort, 1986, in object record).
    [2] See note 1.
  • Collection

    Freer Gallery of Art Collection
  • Exhibition History

    Vietnam's Ceramics: Depth and Diversity (July 11, 2015 - July 10, 2016)
    Vietnamese Ceramics from the Red River Delta (July 10, 2005 to November 15, 2009)
  • Previous custodian or owner

    Dean Frasché (1906-1994)
  • Origin

    Red River Delta kilns, Hai Duong province, Vietnam
  • Credit Line

    Gift of Dean Frasché
  • Type

    Furniture and Furnishing
  • Restrictions and Rights

    Usage Conditions Apply

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