Gustave Hierholtz (1877-1954), Buste du Mandarin King-Loi, roi du Tonkin

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Gustave Hierholtz (1877-1954), Buste du Mandarin King-Loi, roi du Tonkin. Bronze. H: 66 cm, L: 50 cm, P: 29 cm; Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, 75.15522.3. Photo (C) musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Léo Delafontaine

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Gustave Hierholtz (1877-1954), Buste du Mandarin King-Loi, roi du Tonkin. Bronze. H: 66 cm, L: 50 cm, P: 29 cm; Paris, musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac, 75.15522.3. Photo (C) RMN-Grand Palais (musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac) / Gérard Blot

Buste à la française sur socle du Mandarin King-Loi, roi du Tonkin. Inscription : caractères chinois sur la base de face.

 

Serving Dish, Bottle-shaped Vase, Bowl & Parrot Bowl, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788)

83417, 2001.137.11

Serving Dish, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), Late 15th-early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue,  5.4 x 24.1cm (2 1/8 x 9 1/2in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.6. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery.

Bottle-shaped Vase (Yuhuchun), Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th-early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue, 29.4cm (11 9/16in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.1. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery.

Bowl, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th-early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue,  9.1 x 15cm (3 9/16 x 5 7/8in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.8. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery.

Parrot Bowl, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th-early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue, 8.7cm (3 7/16in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.10. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery.

Dish with a Landscape Design, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th – early 16th century

Dish with a Landscape Design, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th - early 16th century

Dish with a Landscape Design, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428-1788), late 15th – early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue and overglaze enamels, 35.6cm (14in.). Gift of Molly and Walter Bareiss, B.S. 1940S, 1999.9.3. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Bibliography: John Stevenson and John Guy, Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition (Chicago: Art Media Resources, Ltd., 1997), 309, pl. 245.

Water Dropper in the Shape of a Puffer Fish, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428–1788), late 15th–early 16th century

2001.137.11, 834172001.137.11, 8341783417, 2001.137.11

Water Dropper in the Shape of a Puffer Fish, Vietnam, Lê dynasty (1428–1788), late 15th–early 16th century. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze cobalt blue, 5.3 x 7.9 cm (2 1/16 x 3 1/8 in.). Gift of Mary and Cheney Cowles, B.A. 1966, 2001.137.11. Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

The late fifteenth through early sixteenth century was a golden age for Vietnamese ceramics. The Chinese government had put prohibitions on the export of Chinese ceramics, and the Vietnamese moved quickly to fill the void in the market. The extent of this trade has become more and more apparent with the accidental discovery of shipwrecks, such as the fully loaded ship discovered off Hoi An on Cu Lao Cham Island in 1993–94. The scientific excavation of the wreck took place in three campaigns between 1997 and 1999, and the Vietnamese government authorized the sale of a portion of the ceramics recovered from the site in 2000. This water dropper comes from the Hoi An shipwreck. It shows the approach of Vietnamese potters to decoration in underglaze blue.

Jar, 15th century, Vietnam, Bat Trang village

Jar, 15th century, Vietnam, Bat Trang village

Jar, 15th century, Vietnam, Bat Trang village. Porcelaneous stoneware with underglaze blue, H. 6 in. (15.2 cm). Gift of Dean F. Frasché, 76.074.003 © 2017 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Although often confused with or considered to be offspring of Chinese Ming dynasty blue-and-white wares, the ceramics of Vietnam differ from their Chinese counterparts in many ways. A creamier, more opaque glaze and a looser pattern in the underglaze decoration are the two most common features that set these wares apart. This particular jar displays some of the most common motifs of Vietnamese underglaze blue wares, such as the peony scroll on the body of the jar and the lotus petals above the foot rim.

Since the fourteenth century, Bat Trang, located in northern Vietnam along the Red River, some thirteen kilometers from Hanoi, has been the center of Vietnamese ceramic production, which still continues today with some five hundred family kilns. It rose to prominence in the fifteenth century when the export of Chinese ceramics from southern ports was temporarily halted. It is possible that many potters from southern China came to Bat Trang at that time. Bat Trang jars were traded and prized throughout Southeast Asia, and have been found in sites as far away as Japan and the Philippines. This jar is an especially fine example and was most likely used for ceremonial or burial purposes, for it displays no sign of extensive use.

Ewer with designs of a makara and a parrot, 11th–13th century, Vietnam, Thanh Hóa province

Ewer with designs of a makara and a parrot, 11th–13th century, Vietnam, Thanh Hóa province

Ewer with designs of a makara and a parrot, 11th–13th century, Vietnam, Thanh Hóa province. Glazed stoneware, 9 13/16 x 9 1/16 in. (25 x 23 cm). Acquired through the George and Mary Rockwell Fund, 2006.029 © 2017 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

During the years of independence from China during the Ly and Tran dynasties, Vietnamese ceramics show influence from metalwork of Indian, Cham, or Khmer origin, especially in large ewers such as this. Swelling shapes and ivory-colored ash glazes characterize Ly ceramics as do decorative motifs such as the lotus petal collar and lid, reflecting the importance of Buddhism. The spout is fashioned as a makara, a mythical water-creature that combines features of elephant, fish, and crocodile, and from whose mouth spews vegetation and jewels. It commonly appears in Khmer architecture. The pseudo-handle is in the form of a parrot, a favorite subject in Vietnamese decorative arts.

Dinh Q. Lê, Untitled, from the series Cambodia: Splendor and Darkness, 1998

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Dinh Q. Lê (Vietnamese, born 1968), Untitled, from the series Cambodia: Splendor and Darkness, 1998. C-print and linen tape, 63 × 44 in. (160 × 111.8 cm). Acquired through the George and Mary Rockwell Fund, 2014.001 © 2017 Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

Dinh Q. Lê is the most established Vietnamese-American artist to date, having had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (The Farmers and the Helicopters, 2009) and shown at dOCUMENTA 13. He was born in Ha Tien, a Vietnamese town near the border with Cambodia, and in the late 1970s he and his family settled in the United States as refugees. Cambodia: Splendor and Darkness (1994–99) marked a significant moment in his practice, occurring around the time that Lê decided to return to Vietnam and make his home in Ho Chi Minh City. It is the first major series in which he used his signature method of interweaving strips of photographs, following bamboo mat weaving techniques he learned from his aunt during his childhood. Here he juxtaposes two different images associated with Cambodia: bas-reliefs of battle scenes from the twelfth-century temple of Angkor Wat, and photographs of prisoners from the Khmer Rouge detention center known as S-21 (now the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum). Lê creates a dialogue between two episodes of Cambodian history that he sees as intrinsically rooted in violence, producing an alternative means of memorializing these victims.