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.
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