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South East Asian Art and Antiques, & Antiquarian, Rare and Collectable books
South East Asian Art and Antiques, & Antiquarian, Rare and Collectable books

Propitiatory figurine Thailand circa 15th Century

SKU A04002

Propitiatory figurine, Thailand

This terracotta female figurine would be traditionally placed in a Thai spirit house, shrine or temple as a propitiatory offering.

In modern times cheap plastic figurines are often used to fulfil this function.

Ceramic kilns at
 Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai fired thousands of similar figurines
 in the 14th to 15th centuries; The colors varied from white to celadon to brown, and 
black underpinning was occasionally used to emphasize details.

 What makes these individually modeled pieces so much more 
interesting than the mould-stamped modern versions is the love 
and observation that clearly has been put into them.

None are
 masterpieces, but the work of local craftsmen who draw on their 
own experience and the life around them to create spontaneous as
 well as sincere works. The mother-and-child figure, definitely 
mass-produced from the quantities that have been unearthed, was a
 particular favorite, and usually lovingly observed.

This piece has been repaired at the neck, but
 detached heads are also quite common. Such breakage was not
 accidental, but a feature of their use. When people took a 
figurine to the temple as a propitiatory offering to solve a 
problem such as bad luck or ill health, the function of the 
figurine was to remove the harm or had luck. To this end the 
figurine’s neck was broken and the remains buried. Such broken 
pieces are known as tukata sia kraban meaning literally ‘doll 
that has lost its head’.

15 cm high x 7.5 cm wide x 8 cm deep

circa 15th century