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Elephant shaped jar

11th century-12th century


Unknown Artist


This inspired and original interpretation of a globular-shaped pot bears the instantly recognisable features of an elephant. Revered by the Khmer people in their daily lives, the animal also appears in much Buddhist and Hindu iconography. This particular example is a stunning marriage of ornamental impulse and practical need. Ceramics such as this were neither ceremonial vessels nor ritual objects, but articles of daily use. Because they were not made for export they remained free of outside influences, retaining their highly distinctive Khmer character. Made from a light buff-coloured low-fired stoneware, and covered with a brittle brown glaze that is prone to flaking, such wares are the hallmark products of the Khmer ceramic tradition.

Art Gallery Handbook, 1999. pg. 298.


Place where the work was made


Cultural origin



Angkor period 802 - 1431 → Cambodia


11th century-12th century

Media category


Materials used

stoneware with dark brown glaze to lower body, legs unglazed


21.0 cm

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1981

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 10 publications


Roxanna M Brown, The ceramics of South-East Asia: Their dating and identification, Malaysia, 1977. plate J; No. 3; NOTE: See plate I, no. 4 for a pale green glazed jar

Roxanna M Brown and Adrian Joseph (Editors), South-East Asian and Chinese Trade Pottery, Hong Kong, 1979, 220. 241

Dean Frasche, South-east Asian Ceramics, New York, 1977, 38. 10

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian Collection: South-East Asia', pg. 298-301, Sydney, 1999, 298 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Asian Art', pg. 85-103, Sydney, 1981, 93 (illus.). 13

Jackie Menzies, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 180 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies and Edmund Capon, Asian Collection Handbook, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'South-East Asian Art', pg. 83-96, Sydney, 1990, 90 (illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2003, 317 (colour illus.).

Jacqueline Menzies, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Asian', pg. 72-93, Sydney, 1988, 92 (illus.).

Editor Unknown, Oriental art [vol 27, no 1], Surrey, Spring 1981, (illus.). Bluett advertisement featuring this work.