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Ref ID: 22249
Ref Type: Book Section
Authors: Feng, Aaron Kao Jiun
Title: The decorated earthenware from National Art Gallery site, Singapore
Date: 2018
Source: Advancing Southeast Asian archaeology 2016
Place of Publication: Bangkok
Publisher: SEAMEO SPAFA Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts
Abstract: Specialized studies of archaeological earthenware in Southeast Asia recently (Ha 1988
Rispoli 1992, 2007
Stark 2000
Miksic 2003
Sarjeant 2010, 2012a, 2012b, 2012c, 2014
Niziolek 2011, 2013
Favereau and Bellina 2016) are an encouraging sign. Earthenware is not often the focus of analysis in Southeast Asian ceramic collections and assemblages, unlike other categories such as stoneware, glazed trade ware and exotic porcelains. The analysis of 14th century CE earthenware decoration in Singapore is central to this paper. Specifically, the following research evaluates patterns and textures on the surfaces of low-fired earthenware potsherds. Decorations were produced by various methods commonly identified as impressing, incising, punctating, sculpting and appliquéing. Although pottery decorations are an essential component in archaeological research, the data presented on Southeast Asian earthenware decorations are often implicit and ambiguous, barely breaching the identification of motifs (e.g. chevrons, herringbone, etc.) or how decorative traits were manufactured (e.g. carved-paddle-impressed, incised, punctated, etc.). Although useful, there remains ambiguity in the terminology used to describe decorations, leading to confusion. Furthermore, there are marginal attempts in tracing the source of inspiration. We must also consider the roles that attributes may have played in their socio-technological environment. This paper is intended to move towards a more systematic and nuanced approach by presenting explicit typologies, analyses and implications for the 14th century National Art Gallery1 (NAG) assemblage from Singapore. Various earthenware surface treatments were identified and analysed. Analysis took into account the physical characteristics, manufacturing technology, design configurations and type-variations of motifs. The aim was to form a typology to determine quantitative and qualitative characteristics as well as variance amongthe sample set. This is useful for intra-site, and inter-site comparative analysis. It also has applied value for rescue and salvage projects as it provides a systematic baseline. The identification of 75 different motifs from a dataset of 585 pieces weighing 2,564 grams demonstrated that the decorated earthenware were heterogeneous, with approximately half being decorated by carved-paddle-impressing and the remainder by incising and appliquéing. The designs of these decorations are mostly geometric and can be found on earlier pottery throughout Southeast Asia. Additionally, their manifestation on other forms of material culture such as textiles, statuary and architectural bas-reliefs suggested their popularity.
Identifier: 978-616-7961-16-3
Date Created: 4/4/2018
Editors: Tan, Noel Hidalgo
Page Start: 130
Page End: 144