Vessel with incised decoration

The dark gray, beaker-shaped vessel was shaped from two pieces: the rounded base of a container with broad trumpet mouth and wide, down-turning rim rests within the throat of a separate pedestal with spreading foot, and a projecting flange conceals the seam. The uneven, undulating surfaces suggest that the vessel parts were formed by hand from slabs or coils of clay built up and then smoothed between the potter’s fingers. Decoration — two broad, primarily curvilinear bands with angular lower edges — was first outlined with a sharp pointed tool, then filled in with a densely-packed zigzag line sometimes described as “rocker stamping,” suggesting that the blunt endof a blade was rocked back and forth to create the furrows. The untextured sections of the decorated surface, as well as the undecorated interior, appear to have been gently burnished. Presumably the vessel was fired in a bonfire, whose flames were smothered at the end of the firing with damp fuel or earth to produce the dense smoke that impregnated the walls with carbon, creating the charcoal gray surface.

Maker(s)
Artist: Possibly Ban Chiang culture (4400-200 BCE)
Historical period(s)
Prehistoric period, late 3rd-early 2nd millennium BCE
Medium
Dark gray earthenware with incised and impressed decoration
Dimensions
H x Diam: 33.9 x 42.3 cm (13 3/8 x 16 5/8 in)
Geography
Northeast Thailand, Khorat Plateau
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Collection
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
S1998.119
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Vessel

Keywords
Ban Chiang ware, earthenware, Prehistoric, Thailand, WWII-era provenance
Provenance
Provenance research underway.
Description

The dark gray, beaker-shaped vessel was shaped from two pieces: the rounded base of a container with broad trumpet mouth and wide, down-turning rim rests within the throat of a separate pedestal with spreading foot, and a projecting flange conceals the seam. The uneven, undulating surfaces suggest that the vessel parts were formed by hand from slabs or coils of clay built up and then smoothed between the potter's fingers. Decoration -- two broad, primarily curvilinear bands with angular lower edges -- was first outlined with a sharp pointed tool, then filled in with a densely-packed zigzag line sometimes described as "rocker stamping," suggesting that the blunt endof a blade was rocked back and forth to create the furrows. The untextured sections of the decorated surface, as well as the undecorated interior, appear to have been gently burnished. Presumably the vessel was fired in a bonfire, whose flames were smothered at the end of the firing with damp fuel or earth to produce the dense smoke that impregnated the walls with carbon, creating the charcoal gray surface.

Published References
  • Thomas Lawton, Thomas W. Lentz. Beyond the Legacy: Anniversary Acquisitions for the Freer Gallery of Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. vol. 1 Washington, 1998. pp. 206-207.
Collection Area(s)
Southeast Asian Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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