Stem Vase with Incised and Painted Design

Period: Middle period

Date: 1000–300 B.C.

Culture: Thailand (Ban Chiang culture)

Medium: Earthenware with buff slip and red oxide decoration

Dimensions: H. 9 1/2 (24.1 cm); W. 6 7/8 in. (17.4 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Cynthia Hazen Polsky, 1987

Accession Number: 1987.424.4.2


This elegant stem cup was assembled in two pieces: a short bulbous cup with a full rim, and a longer handle or "stem" with a splayed foot. Geometric patterns, both curvilinear forms and more structured triangles and rectangles, are delicately incised on the cup and at the lower part of the stem, and painted with red and buff slips.

Cups such as this example, which combine painted and incised decoration, are assigned to the middle phase at Ban Chiang and related sites. Several cups in this shape are known; however, no comparable pieces have been scientifically excavated at the site. They may represent a cognate tradition centered on a comparable site on the Khorat Plateau or elsewhere in mainland Southeast Asia. Such ceramics were most likely among the luxury goods traded and exchanged as gifts between cultures in Southeast Asia that had long been linked to each other via rivers and other waterways.