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20 April 2007 Newsletter

Next Meeting Saturday, May 19 at 6:00 pm

The next meeting of the Washington Oriental Ceramic Group will take place on Saturday, May 19 at 6:00 pm at the home of Ms. Sylvia Fraser-Lu, 8011 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD 20854. Sylvia will discuss Burmese architectural ceramics focusing on Buddhist-themed plaques found on walls of Buddhist religious buildings in Burma / Myanmar dating from Pagan times (1044-1287) to the present day. This meeting will be a potluck. When you RSVP please let Sylvia know what dish or drink you will bring. RSVP addresses: email:; tel.: 301 251 6374. Directions to Sylvia’s are at the end of this announcement.


Synopsis of the March 24 meeting.

Drawing from his extensive collection of original photographs, broadsides, illustrated newspapers, and other ephemera, Bob Sayers entertained the group with his discussion of Japan "discovering America” after 1860. Then, an array of diplomats, circus entertainers, troupes of acrobats and even earlier (1850s) young Japanese castaways picked up by American whalers created a "Japan mania”. A Japan village was set in New York City. Troupes of entertainers criss-crossed America (and Europe). Diplomats wanted to get a sense of the West and western technology after Perry opened Japan in 1854. Sayers should take his talk "on the road” as it was most amusing, entertaining and explained a phenomenon that few today had know of or is remembered.

The new show, "Taking Shape", at the Sackler-Freer

(FSG) highlights the wide variety of ceramics collected in Southeast Asia by the Hauges, a "quartet of impassioned collectors". The exhibition lays out the two Southeast Asian ceramic traditions of earthenwares and stonewares. Louise Cort, the exhibition’s curator, explains that in the show the earthenware and stoneware pots are arranged in groups as one might see them in a house in mainland Southeast Asia. Earthenwares are good for cooking, while stoneware jars are great for making rice beer. Divided into three themes, the first defines the two traditions, the second section of the show illustrates how Chinese and Indian container styles were adapted and modified for use by Southeast Asian. The third emphasizes the movement of ceramics in regional and international trade.

Interesting facts come out. In the stilted longhouses of Vietnam’s central highlands, which traditionally held numerous large storage jars as both useful items and valuable prestige objects, it was the men who were the connoisseurs of dating and the valuing of the jars, while it was the women who owned them. A serious jar could be traded for one elephant! The making of earthenwares was largely women’s work, while men were potters of stoneware vessels. Earthenwares and stonewares are difficult to date as potters are conservative in their traditions of shaping vessels. Similar shapes have been made for centuries. Customers also cling to a vessel form they are comfortable with. This show is a classic FSG presentation – well designed, interesting, educational and full of shapely things.

The Freer-Sackler website has nicely illustrated all of the 200 jars in Taking Shape in its "eGallery" at This show runs for three years.




Directions to 8011 Postoak Road, Potomac, MD 20854 follow:

Google Map

    Take the beltway (495) and go in the direction of Rockville/Bethesda. Get onto Route 270 in the direction of Frederick. Get off at the Montrose West exit and drive up to Seven Locks Road--only a few hundred yards away (name is suspended across the road). Make a left on Seven Locks Road and drive to the first traffic light which is Postoak Road. Turn right and go up two small blocks-past Smoketree Road to the corner of Postoak and Devilwood Drive. I am the right-hand corner house--a rambler. There is a blue US mailbox right outside.
    From River Road turn right onto Seven Locks. You will pass through Bradley, Democracy and Tuckerman Lane intersections. You will see Cabin John Shopping Center on the right. Keep on going through the Gainsborough Road intersection. Make a left turn on Postoak. Go two small blocks past Smoketree Road. I am the right hand corner house on Postoak Road and Devilwood Drive. There is a blue US mailbox outside.
    Take Wisconsin Avenue, the name of which changes to Rockville Pike after Bethesda. Go all the way to Montrose Road. Turn left on Montrose Road and continue for about 2 miles until you come to Seven Locks Road and follow the above directions to the house for via the Beltway.
    See Beltway directions or go via Connecticut Avenue to Randolph Road. Turn left on Randolph and go all the way to the Rockville Pike and continue on for at that point Randolph Road becomes Montrose Road. Continue to Seven Locks Road and follow directions for via the Beltway.
    Follow Tuckerman Lane to Seven Locks Road, turn right on Seven Locks and follow directions for via River Road.
    There is a No. 38 Bus to Montgomery Mall which goes via White Flint and stops on Postoak Road near Smoketree Road close to my place. It originates in Wheaton and picks up at half-hourly intervals (on the hour and half-hour) from White Flint. It may be caught on Rockville Pike on the same side as the metro station.

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