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Collections: Southeast Asian Art


Number of objects: close to 900 in the permanent collections, plus over 3,000 ceramic sherds and other materials in the Freer Study Collection
Historical range: 2,200 B.C.E.–present
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During his lifetime, Charles Lang Freer acquired just a handful of objects from Southeast Asia. The Freer and Sackler Galleries' Southeast Asian art collection has grown significantly in recent years, thanks largely to the contributions of Arthur M. Sackler and other collectors. The Hauge Collection of Ceramics from mainland Southeast Asia and other donations and acquisitions vastly enhanced our reputation regarding regional earthenware, stoneware, and imported Chinese Ceramics. What began as a few pieces of pottery has developed into a rich and expanding collection of ceramics from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, and Burma, as well as Hindu and Buddhist temple sculpture in stone, bronze, and terra-cotta.

Highlights of the collection include:

  • Neolithic earthenware ceramics from northeast Thailand belonging to the Ban Chiang culture
  • Hindu and Buddhist temple sculpture from Cambodia and Indonesia, including an 8th-century Buddha head from Borobudur, Central Java (Indonesia)
  • 10th–14th century glazed ceramics from the Khmer empire in Cambodia
  • 12th–17th century glazed ceramics from north and central Vietnam
  • 16th–19th century glazed and unglazed ceramics from northeast Thailand and Laos