Double handled terracotta amphora. Sgraffito design detailing imagery inspired by the shipwreck of a vessel carrying early Ming porcelain discovered centuries later in 2007.
"Chinese archaeologists have found an ancient sunken ship in the South China Sea laden with Ming Dynasty porcelain...A preliminary study of the sunken ship shows it may have sunk 400 years ago after striking a reef,” archaeologist Dr Wei Jun was quoted as saying.
“On May 25, 2007, police learnt that some fishermen had been recovering ancient porcelain objects from the sea...Police confiscated 21 pieces of porcelain from a fishing boat whose owner claimed that divers he had hired for deep-sea fishing had recovered the porcelain by accident. On May 26, another 117 pieces of porcelain were confiscated from two fishing boats carrying out illegal salvage work.
“The discovery of South China Sea II (ship) will provide more evidence about the Marine Silk Road, and help with the study of Chinese seafaring, shipbuilding and ceramics making,” Wei said. Foreign smugglers were using advanced technology to steal China’s seabed treasures, mostly porcelain from ancient shipwrecks... Many relics were being shipped to the United States and other antique markets. Art collectors and dealers have been pursuing China’s seabed heritage in earnest since early 2005, when about 15,000 pieces, mainly blue-and-white porcelain about 300 years old, were found in a shipwreck off the southeastern province of Fujian."
This complex and intriguing story reveals a lot about the different types of people and/or organizations interested in these ancient treasures, and how their intentions vary on the moral scale. Eventually, these treasures are bound to fall into the hands of an array of individuals and/or institutions with mysterious and hidden agendas.
The items are extremely valuable in providing insight to the ceramic technologies of the past, and exist as reflections of the social demands and aesthetics of that time period. Ceramic history is technologically complex and globally intertwined, but the magic often begins with these simple, fairytale-like circumstances.
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