July 2020

July 2020

The kendi, an Indonesian-Malay term derived from the Sanskrit kundika, a water-pouring vessel with a distinctive mammiform spout and bulbous body, was indigenous to the Southeast Asian archipelago. Some Thai kendis took zoomorphic forms. The hamsa, the mythical swan-vehicle of the Hindu deity Brahma sacred to Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, surfaced in kendi form with its mouth acting as a spout. When the Ayutthuya ruler, Boromma Trailokanat (1448-1488), bestowed the Sanskrit term, Svargaloka, meaning β€˜Place of Heaven’ on Sawankhalok, the hamsa kendi became a recognisable emblem. Sawankhalok-Sukothai ceramic shapes and forms also reflect varied religious affiliations prevailing at the time. They tell us that from the 14th to the 16th centuries, Theravada Buddhism, Hindu Brahman cults and animistic folk beliefs mingled with other Thai spiritual practices. This kendi was seen in the exhibition Reflections of the Lotus: Art from Thailand, Burma, Cambodia and Laos at the Art Gallery of South Australia in June 2010.