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Pre-Khmer Large Pottery Pouring Vessel Kendi

Pre-Khmer Large Pottery Pouring Vessel Kendi

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Pre-Khmer Empire, c. 3th to 8th century, Cambodia.

Important and highly elegant unglazed pouring vessel, kendi, whose form would become ubiquitous in Southeast Asia, was produced prior to the Khmer Empire (802AD-1431AD). The bulbous vessel form is of Indian origin, the result of Indian traders who settled throughout Southeast Asia, place known as the "Land of Gold" in the 100AD - 400AD. The shape of the kendi varied considerably over the centuries, but all have more or less rouded body, a straight neck and a spout set at an angle on the shoulder with no handle. The kendi seems to have been designed specifically to be held a a certain height so water could be pured into the mouth. The large vessel crafted of a red pottery, with a wide, globular body resting on a narrow, round, flat bottomed foot. A short, tapering neck rises from the body, opening to a wide, everted mouth with a slightly raised mouth rim. A single spout emerges from the shoulder of the body. The Khmer Empire, or the Angkorian Empire, are the terms that historians use to refer to Cambodia from the 9th century to the 15th century when the nation was a Hindu/ Buddhist empire in Southeast Asia. As its peak, the Khmer Empire was larger than the Byzantine Empire which existed around the same time. Perhaps its most notable legacy is the site of Angor, in present-day Cambodia, the Khmer capital during the empire's zenith. The majestetic monuments of Angkor, such as Angkor Wat and Bayon, bear testimony to the Khmer Empire's immense power and wealth. The evidence for early ceramic traditions in Cambodia has emerged in the Mekong Delta region, where earthenware utility and ritual vessels have been excavated. Fine paste wares have been excavated from the region from sites such as Angkor Borei, the inland capital of Funan that was linked to the cosmopolitan port city of Oc Eo. 

Absolutely beautiful ancient kendi are in excellent condition. Intact. Finely painted delicate rosettes with parallel red and white lines on rim, neck, and shoulder. Age-related wear and abrasion with a minimal scratches on surface. Minor chip in the foot. The body has an attractive and subtle pattern from root marks and soil encrustations from centuries of burial. Size approx. 23,0cm x 19,0cm x 21,0cm.  

Provenance: Finnish private collection.

For a similar examples see:

Kendi, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Accession number: 2001.31.5 (

Kendi, Roots, Asian Civilisations Museum, Accession number: 2011-02071 (

Khmer Ceramics: Beauty and Meaning, Dawn Rooney, River Books Press Dist A C, 2010, pp. 178-179.

References and further reading:

Kendi in the Cultural Context of Southeast Asia, A Commentary, Dawn F. Rooney. (

The Khmer Empire, Rodrigo Quijada Plubins, World History Encyclopedia, 12 March 2013. (

The Kendi: The Long Journey of a Little Water Vessel, Margaret White, Passage, May/June 2018.

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    The shipment will be prepared in the course of 3-5 days and dispatched via Posti Group Oyj or purchased item(s) can be picked up from our shop during the store's opening hours (Tarkk’ampujankatu 4, 00140, Helsinki, Finland). Within the Finland, all items are shipped via Posti Group Oyj unless otherwise requested. We pack the items carefully and mainly in recycled materials because we want to save nature. You will receive the tracking number for your items by e-mail.

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