Medallion from Sukhothai underglaze fish plate T-717.
Last modified:
12 May 2001

Vietnamese ceramics on Turiang

Photo of underglazed bowls - T-124 on left.

Interior of underglaze bowl T-178.
Flower medallion from bowl T-189.
Flower medallion from bowl T-177.

All of the Vietnamese ceramics discovered so far on the Turiang are bowls. The size range is limited: they are 14.5-17cm in diameter and 5.5-7cm high. Most are underglaze black, and decorated in similar fashion with a stylized chrysanthemum flower at the interior bottom, a stylized calligraphic or chevron scroll inside the rim, and another within line borders around the outside wall. The side of these bowls is S-shaped; the rims are straight and thin. The off-white clay is fine, smooth enough that no slip was required, although some had a chocolate wash on the base. The little glaze remaining is thin and often olive-green. Most of these bowls have five triangular spur-disc scars in the lower interior. Foot-rings are thinly cut with a flat recess in the base.

Vietnamese bowl  T-177 with calligraphic scroll.
Vietnamese bowl 2 with calligraphic scroll

Calligraphic scrolls represent the earliest known Vietnamese style, and are almost identical to the scrolls on the Sukhothai wares. The Vietnamese paintings however are made directly on the body. Bowls like these with an underglaze black floral decoration had appeared in Japan by AD 1331¹.

Photo of Vietnamese monochrome bowl.Five Vietnamese monochrome bowls have been recovered. Four are plain. One has a delicate foliate rim, with impressed interior decoration. Eight panels with Buddhist emblems surround an 8-petalled flower. The lower interior displays five triangular scars from a five-legged spur-disc. The diameter of this bowl is 16 cm. These bowls have traces of an original pale green glaze.

In all, twenty-four Vietnamese bowls have been recovered, of which seven have a chocolate wash on the base. The foot-rings on these bowls are different, squarely cut, with a rather deep and flat recess in the base. The chocolate wash is characteristic of Vietnamese ware but by no means exclusive; in combination with the creamy clay, foot-rings, and decorative style, there is little doubt as to origin. All of these are typical of central Vietnamese ware of the 14th century.

  1. Etsuko Miyata, from excavations at Dazaifu. The date of 1331 has not been unanimously accepted, but there is no doubt that the type is from the 14th century.

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