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.