Teapots that aren’t! Water Vessels from Southeast Asia.

There is the temptation to describe any vessel with a spout and a handle as a teapot or a kettle. But in Southeast Asia rarely are ‘teapots’ or ‘kettles’ any such thing, despite auction houses, collectors and even some museums persisting with such categorisation.

In Thailand, most items made from silver which appear to be teapots are in fact hot water vessels used to top up a teapot that is likely made from ceramics or terracotta.

The first three images below are all Thai and are all hot water vessels. They are NOT teapots.

In Islamic Southeast Asia (ie Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, southern Thailand and the southern Philippines) vessels that look like kettles or teapots are used for neither. Instead, they are used for holding cold water used for washing the right hand prior to, and after, eating – the water is simply poured over the right hand to rinse it, with the left holding the vessel. The vessels can also be used to hold and dispensing drinking water.

The last three vessels are from Indonesia and Malaysia and were made to be used for these purposes.

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