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Ref ID: 25357
Ref Type: Book Section in a Series
Authors: Peronnet, Sophie
Srikanlaya, Sachipan
Title: The Han ceramics
Date: 2017
Source: Khao Sam Kaeo: An Early Port-City between the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea
Place of Publication: Paris
Publisher: École Française d'Extrême-Orient
Abstract: The corpus of Han related material is comprised of 84 sherds. According to their forming and finishing techniques, these ceramics can be divided into two groups: hand-made ceramics with coiling and paddling, and wheel-made ceramics. Hand-made ceramics were decorated by impression technique with net design, seal-on-net design, checkered design, lozenge design, cord design and two horizontal lines design. Wheel-made ceramics were mostly undecorated, but the distinctive sherds are ceramics with decorated handles. The ceramics display various patterns. They are fine, medium and coarse pastes with different inclusions, such as sand, quartz, charcoal and grain. The group of fine and compact pastes is the biggest one. It includes ceramics with net design, seal-on-net design, checkered design, two horizontal lines design and decorated handles, whereas the medium to coarse pastes group is mainly with net design, lozenge design and cord design. This group contains a wider variety of pastes for ceramics with net design than the others. The Han-style ceramic pastes from Khao Sam Kaeo show decorative styles comparable to those of the Western Han period which can be classified into 3 groups: Southern China type with net design, seal-on-net design and horizontal grooves
Eastern China type with checkered design and decorated handle
and North Vietnam type with net design, lozenge design, cord design and undecorated fine wares. Ceramic kilns in China are not very well known for the Han dynasty, especially for the Western Han period. A few kilns have been discovered and excavated, but very few studies on the Han ceramics have been published. The main region for the production of the hard glaze ware was Northern Zhejiang, while Guangdong continued to make lower firing ceramics but increasing the control of firing. Based on stylistic comparisons, the majority of the Chinese ceramics discovered in Khao Sam Kaeo seem to have been made in South China, a quarter in the province of Zhejiang and about the same proportion in North Vietnam. So far, Khao Sam Kaeo corpus is the most important for this period ever found outside China and the regions under its influence. The Han related ceramics and Chinese bronze objects from Khao Sam Kaeo date mainly from the 1st century BC, which corresponds to the Han conquest of Southern China and North Vietnam. Although Panyu remained an important trade centre, the main points of embarkation appear to have been located further south in Hepu (Southern Guangxi), Xuwen (Southern Guangdong), and along the coast of North Vietnam. In Southern China, local objects like ceramics with seal-on-net design or bronze seals with the shape of a turtle, comparable to those found in Khao Sam Kaeo have been found in the same tombs where which artefacts show foreign influence. These Southeast Asian items have appeared in South China from the middle of the Western Han Dynasty, with the expansion of the Han Empire. The similarities between material from Northern Vietnam and Southern China show that the areas were parts of one single sphere for goods distribution during the Han period. It is sometimes very difficult to distinguish between Han ceramics and Vietnamese Han style ceramics. However, most of the Han related ceramics from Khao Sam Kaeo seem to come from Southern China, whereas almost a quarter comes from Central Eastern China and the last quarter from Northern Vietnam. The jars decorated with an animal mask on the handles are characteristic of Central Eastern China but they were never discovered in South China or in Vietnam. Their discovery in Thailand is really unexpected. Very few allusions to contacts between China and India appear in Chinese texts and, until recently, no archaeological proof of these exchanges has been found on this route except in Vietnam. This lack of evidence explains why many scholars did not believe in the existence of these early contacts even if Chinese texts mention embassies between India and China during the Han Dynasty. Those embassies were very likely accompanied by merchants, which could explain why only a few Chinese or Han-related ceramics were found in Thailand. All the sherds seem to belong to storage vessels. They probably contained food or beverage for the merchants' journey. There was no information concerning the merchants' origins. We just know that they were loading Chinese objects in South China and North Vietnam. The Han and Han style objects found in KSK could also have been brought by some immigrants. Archaeological discoveries in Prohear, Cambodia, or South Vietnam, for example, seem to confirm the presence of "settlements" from South China or North Vietnam in Southeast Asia between the 1st century BC and the end of the Han dynasty.
Date Created: 9/13/2017
Editors: Bellina, Bérénice
Volume: 28
Page Start: 391
Page End: 421
Series Title: Mémoires Archéologiques