Griffin Gallery Antiquities

16th Century Burmese Glazed Pottery Spice Jar

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Pre 1700: Item # 1026639

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16th Century Burmese Pottery Spice jar, Gulf of Martaban region. Glazed in brown color and bulbous in shape. 9" high and in very good condition. Professional repair to mouth, chip to mouth as seen in images. According to Southeast Asia Ceramic Society, sometimes spelled "martavan", these refer to large brown glazed jars used generally for storage purposes. The Moroccan scholar and explorer Ibn Battuta, in his travels in Southeast Asia in the 14th century, commented that such large jars were used to ship "pepper, citron, and mango, all prepared with salt" (Gutman 2001:112). Although Brown states that such jars are rarely found in Southeast Asian shipwrecks (2004: 89), fragments have been discovered in shipwrecks off the coast of Goa, India, indicating that they were used further afield towards western Asia. This jar with appliqué decoration represents a typical shape that Martabans are known for – a wide shoulder and a tapering base. Two other features characterize the Martaban jar: the large size and the brown glaze which can sometimes be so dark as to seem black.