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Thai Sawankhalok Brown Glazed Stoneware Mercury Bottle

Thai Sawankhalok Brown Glazed Stoneware Mercury Bottle

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Ayutthaya Kingdom period, 15th to early 16th century, Sawankhalok, Ban Ko Noi Area, Thailand.

Fabulous small-sized gourd-shaped bottle with sloping shoulders, flaring rim, tapering sides and a flat unglazed base. Long narrow neck with two decorative loop handles for suspension. Deep dark brown glaze covers upper portion of the jarlet, from the Ban Ko Noi kilns in north-central Thailand. A small bottles such as this example here, were exported to Japan and adapted for use as a candy pellet container (furidashi) in the traditional tea ceremonies. In Japan, the bottle was fitted with a small wooden lid. Sawankhalok/Si Satchanalai ceramic wares (called also Sangkhalok) are ancient Thai traditional ceramic ware specifically derived from Sukhothai Kingdom period (1238-1438). The royal cities of Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai in north-central Thailand were at the heart of one of the largest ceramic-producing centres in Southeast Asia during the 14th century. Sukhothai is known for it coarser clay and has many small black specks due to the high iron content of the clay. Sometimes, these inclusions can be brown, red or silvery. Like Sukhothai, Sawankhalok mainly created relatively simple shapes - jars, bottles, kendis, bowls and plates.  Ceramic wares from the hundreds of kilns located along the Yom River in Si Satchanalai as well as from Sukhothai city were exported in vast quantities to Indonesia and the Philippines where demand was great. Sawankhalok ware was also exported to Japan and the Middle-East. The export of both Thai and Vietnamese ceramics experienced a surge when the Chinese imperial court placed a ban on foreign export during the Ming period (Ming Ban 1, 1371-1509), leaving a gap to be filled.

Good condition. Age-related light wear and abrasion. Glazing defects and firing flaws. Rich earthen deposits. Beautiful patina. Size approx. 7,4cm x 5,5cm x 5,3cm. 

Provenance: Swedish private collection.

For a similar examples see:

Bottle with two vertical ring handles and lid, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian, Accession Number: F1901.86a-b (https://asia.si.edu/explore-art-culture/collections/search/edanmdm:fsg_F1901.86a-b/)

Oil-Bottle, The British Museum, Accession Number: Franks.1990 (https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/A_Franks-1990)

Mercury bottle, National Museums Scotland, Accession Number: A.1906.588 (https://www.nms.ac.uk/explore-our-collections/collection-search-results/?item_id=319890)

References and further reading:

Thai ceramics, National Museums Scotland.

The ceramics of southeast Asia: Thei dating and identification (2nd ed.), R.M. Brown, Singapore, Singapore: Oxford Univesity Press, 1988.

Last shipments from the Thai Sawankhalok Kilns, R.M. Brown, Art from Thailand, pp. 93-103. Mumbai, Marg Publications, 1999.

A Field Guide to Glazed Thai Ceramics, Dawn F. Rooney, Asian Perspectives, Vol 28. No 2, pp. 125-144, University of Hawai'i Press, 1988-89.

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