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Ref ID: 36362
Ref Type: Thesis
Authors: Wong, Sharon Wai Yee
Title: A preliminary study on some economic activities of Khmer Empire: examining the relationship between the Khmer and Guangdong ceramic industries during the 9th-14th centuries
Date: 2009
Source: Southeast Asian Studies
Place of Publication: Singapore
Publisher: National University of Singapore
Notes: Chapters 1 and 2 available via PDF below.
Abstract: A study of the relationship between the Khmer and Chinese ceramic industries during the Angkorian period is important for understanding the cultural exchange between political entities in mainland Southeast Asia and China. This thesis undertakes a comparative study of technological choices and cross-craft interaction between Khmer and Chinese ceramic production. The research is mainly based on excavation at the Thnal Mrech kiln in Phnom Kulen, Cambodia, 2007. This focus was selected because it has been proposed by researchers that products from Phnom Kulen were superior to those of other Khmer kilns in terms of craftsmanship during the Angkorian period. It was also one of the earliest kilns producing glazed ceramics in Southeast Asia. The results of comparative data analysis show that Thnal Mrech kiln is the representative of the highest level of Khmer ceramic production centres based on the comparisons between the type, shape, form, glaze and body, decoration and kiln technology with other Khmer kilns in Cambodia and Northeast Thailand. It is difficult to prove whether Thnal Mrech kiln was a state kiln, but the fact that potters invested a great deal of effort in the endeavor to improve the quality of glaze color, and produced only a limited amount of glazed architectural ceramics in the small kiln suggest that its production and distribution directly involved Khmer royalty. Official exchange (architectural ceramics and ceramic tributes) and folk exchange (influx of Chinese ceramics) stimulated the technological innovation of Khmer ceramic industries, but Khmer architectural ceramics production has its own tradition. Chinese ceramics mainly found in the Angkorian region was treated as prestige items. Guangdong "Khmer-like" ceramics is a typical example of the inter-regional multi-cultural exchange between South China, Khmer Empire, insular Southeast Asia and Middle East. The Guangdong "Khmer-like" ceramics were possibly inspired by the imported Islamic glassware or metalware, and the "Guangdong-like" Khmer ceramics was inspired by the imported Chinese ceramics or Islamic glassware to the Angkorian region. Compared with the Pre-Angkorian period, there was a clear and strict ranking system on using ceramic tiles and containers by the royal court and the common people. This thesis necessarily concludes that Khmer potters have attempted to distinguish their products from imported items or to have absorbed only certain elements from Chinese ceramics in order to maintain a separate tradition. A wide gap emerged between Khmer ceramics and Chinese trade ceramic production in this period.
Date Created: 11/10/2010
Page Start: 290