Prehistoric Spirals: Earthenware from Thailand

December 18, 2021 – Ongoing
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Vessel on pedestal foot; Northeast Thailand, Ban Chiang culture, late period, 300 BCE?200 CE; Earthenware with red pigment; Gift of Victor and Takako Hauge, Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, S2004.24

Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
1050 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC

Sackler, B3, Gallery 29

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Red painted spirals swirl in distinct patterns across the surfaces of these vessels, testifying to the sophisticated material and aesthetic cultures of northeastern Thailand more than two thousand years ago. Their makers belonged to a loose network of settlements specializing in bronze and ceramic production. Tragically, the region has been heavily looted in recent history. The pots, once ritually buried in gravesites as objects of prestige and remembrance, were unearthed recklessly and stripped of their historical context. As a result, little is known about these vessels and the people who made them. Recent research into their materials, techniques, and designs opens new lines of inquiry into the region’s heritage and its profound cultural and material legacy.