In Thailand, households often put shrines in the form of miniature houses on their property to acknowledge the spirits that inhabit the lands. Household members make offerings of flowers, incense, and food to the spirits. Miniature figurines are also placed inside the shrines, as servants for the spirits and as prayers. These glazed stoneware ceramic figurines reveal the long history of the spirit house tradition. Made at the Si Satchinalai kilns in central Thailand, they date to the Ayutthaya period (14th through 16th centuries). The three small figures come from the collection of former Michigan Governor G. Mennen Williams and Mrs. Nancy Q. Williams and depict, from left to right: a woman nursing an infant, a chicken offering, and a seated individual holding a fan.
In honor of the University of Michigan’s 2017 bicentennial, we are celebrating the remarkable archaeological and ethnographic collections and rich legacy of research and teaching at the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology by posting one entry a day for 200 days. The entries will highlight objects from the collections, museum personalities, and UMMAA expeditions. The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology is also posting each day for 200 days on Twitter and Facebook (follow along at #KMA200). After the last post, an exhibition on two centuries of archaeology at U-M opens at the Kelsey. Visit the exhibit—a joint project of the UMMAA and the Kelsey—from October 18, 2017 to May 27, 2018.