THE ART MOTIF OF CHINA IMPERIAL CERAMIC FOUND IN INDONESIA
PART III. STUDIES RESULTS
Dr Iwan Suwandy , MHA
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The International Shipwreck Treasures
Other Shipcwrek Traesure Report
International Shipwreck Treasures Report
Chinese Shipwreck Treasures Revealed
A fabulous hoard of Chinese antiquities salvaged from shipwrecks in the South China Sea is causing a terrific stir among collecting and museum circles.
Until now, almost no one has been allowed to view material or pictures from the finds; certainly no one in the general public.
Though this doesn’t include every item, the treasures shown here, mark the first time they’ve been on such general display.
There are estimated hundreds of objects, most nearly 1,000 years old. According to experts, the number and rarity of the pieces found will significantly affect both the commercial market and scholarly research in top-flight East Asian antiques for years to come.
The shipwrecks were discovered six years ago in international waters between Malaysia and Borneo.
Tilman Walterfang Tilman Walterfang , the German mechanical engineer and director of a large concrete-supply company who discovered the wrecks, created a new company to pursue a salvage project, dubbed Seabed Explorations. Despite mounting costs and regular visits from pirates, Seabed Explorations , based in New Zealand, completed on-site raising operations in three years.
But the company decided to keep quiet about its findings until recently, because the company had been running the treasures through the painstaking desalination and immersion processes necessary for proper preservation. Costs to date have exceeded $7.5 million, according to Rolf Marie and Nikolai von Uexküll, marketing directors at Seabed.
So far the company has unveiled the details of two separate shipwrecks named after small landmarks near their sites of discovery. One is an 11th century wreck called Intan, which was filled with Song dynasty artifacts; the other is the 14th century Maranei, replete with Ming artifacts.
Between them, the ships held export cargoes of ceramic, stoneware and earthenware bowls and plates, bronze mirrors and containers, gold and silver jewelry, ingots and coins, and other things. Nobody knows just how much the hoard is worth, but according to Seabed officials, “The investors are thoroughly satisfied by the importance and value of the finds.”
The ships also offer revelations of hitherto unseen artifacts. For example, the Maranei wreck features a small hand cannon the size of firearms that was not thought to exist until three centuries later.
The Intan wreck is notable for the cultural diversity of its contents, wrought in Chinese, Javanese, Buddhist and Persian styles, denoting Chinese-made objects for foreign markets.
Such early examples of Chinese exports had not been seen before, according to experts consulted by Rolf Marie in the U.S. and Europe. It appears that Tilman uncovered a pivotal spot on the trade route from China out to the West. “It’s a kind of seaborne silk route,” Marie says, “so the finds are important and educational on many levels.”
The company emphasizes that, unlike standard treasure hunters, Seabed paid meticulous attention to historical, archeological and conservation procedures throughout its operations. Indeed Seabed seems to have received top marks from experts who were invited to supervise, such as Lothar Ledderose, Heidelberg University East Asian art history professor, who is now at the Getty Museum. He wrote the preliminary introduction to the Intan find. Says Marie: “Not a single object was ruined or a site irresponsibly excavated.”
Marie and colleague von Uexküll have been in the U.S. for a few weeks on a show-and-tell mission, assessing the market and talking to professionals.
They were in New York recently to take advantage of Asia Week’s concentration of the world’s top curators, collectors, dealers and experts. Marie met with dealer Khalil Rizk of the Chinese Porcelain Co. in Manhattan; Rizk is a well-known world authority on Asian antiques. In remarks made after their meeting, Rizk was clearly impressed by what he saw, though he wondered about the effect of so many artifacts descending on the market in one fell swoop.
According to Marie, Seabed has considered this issue. “We are in no hurry to unload or let go of anything. We will take our time and do it right, over several years if necessary–that includes consideration for the market as well as for the cultural and historical value of our finds. So we’re certainly talking museums too, who might be interested.”
It appears that Seabed may have more to reveal and other projects simmering, so a strategy over time would not be surprising.
According to Tilman, the whole thing began when he was chatting with Asian in-laws who told him of rumored treasures in the general area of the finds. Complete with scuba gear, he traveled to the area and went on his own underwater expedition.
Between then and now, Tilman’s perseverance and diplomacy in getting backers, creating a salvage company, mustering the technology and dealing with locals before raising the wreckage, then preserving it all patiently, seems nothing short of phenomenal. Under the circumstances, no doubt he feels he can wait a little longer.
White porcelain bowl with yingqinq glaze, Song dynasty or earlier, from the Intan shipwreck.
Green glaze ceramic box with rough incised petal design, Song dynasty or earlier, Intan( This Yuan Qinpai coverbox-Driwan note)
Ceramic flask with circular body and tall neck, Song dynasty, Intan
Porcelain headrest or pillow with flower design, Song dynasty, Intan
Glass bottle with strong early Islamic or mid-eastern design influence,
Gold handle, possibly part of ladel or other ritual implement,
Ingot with Chinese inscription showing weight and warning against forgery, Inta
Religious bronze icon with Buddhist styling, possibly Javanese,
Gold stud earring with seven precious stones,
Bronze mirror frames both Javanese and Chinese Song dynasty styles,
large dragon Jar
Chrysanthemum Porcelain Vase
|Item 1: Large 16th century bronze Portuguese breech lock cannon measuring 66″. Barrel length measures 42″ with a 1 1/2 bore, 12″ breech inside. On top of the front breech is a motif with an early Arabic inscription which might have been put there years ago by early Arab traders as a good luck gesture for future trading by Portuguese mariners. Estimated weight 150-200 lbs. This is probably one of the nicest larger of the breech cannons I have found in years and are becoming rarer as the years go by. This piece was found in the Dutch East Indies Kalimantan Timur. Comes complete with knock down carriage.
Item 2: Early c17th century well used ornate bronze breech lock for a breech lock loading cannon. Was found on the Island of Maluku Dutch East Indies and probably came from a Portuguese breeched cannon. The lock measures 10 1/2″ long with a rear circumference of 8 1/4″ and front 7 1/4″. Weight is 14 lbs
Breech No 1: plus close-up of inside. Measures 25 1/2″
Breech No 2 with sight: plus close-up of inside. Measures 35 1/2″
Breech No 3 with sight: plus close-up of muzzle. Measures 34 1/2″ Item 3: Three bronze Portuguese breech lock cannons c1589-1600 found on a Portuguese shipwreck off the island of Ternate Dutch East Indies. These cannons were of small size and could have probably been used for barter for trade in the Dutch East Indies or were used as samples by a Portuguese salesman working for a gun company in Portugal. The cannons look as if they have been in the ocean for some time but are still stable. They measure No 1: 25 1/2″ No 2: 35 1/2″ and No3: 34 1/2″
Item 4: Early Dutch honey coloured genever (gin) pictorial bottle c1880 “Cosmopoliet Schiedam”. The bottle was found in jungle East Kalimantan Dutch East Indies and is in excellent condition. 10″ Tall
Item 5: Shipwrecked Dutch salt glazed drinking mug found on an un-known shipwreck near Guyana South America. Mug dates c1600 and has been somewhat distorted after years under the ocean. Still in excellent condition measures 4 1/2″ tall and has been cleaned
Item 6: Early 16th century bronze breech lock from a breech loading cannon probably Portuguese. Measures 9 2/3″ long x 10″ high and weights 13 lbs. Was found near Ambon Dutch East Indies
Item 7: Early Dutch shipwreck Onion wine bottle c1740 found on a unknown shipwreck near Makassar Dutch East Indies Indonesia, 7 1/2 high
|Item 8: Three shipwreck boarding cutlass swords found on a shipwreck in the Malaka straits Dutch East Indies.All swords c1860-1880 and are in excellent condition still in a solid state with some stress lines due to drying out.There have been a number of these swords found over the last three years on this site and these will probably be the last ones to come out of the wreck site as most of the wreckage has now been salvaged.It’s been very hard over the last three years to determine their place of origin but it looks as if a early Dutch Indiaman and a Chinese junk might have collided there at one time.
Sword No1: 23 1/2″
Sword no2: 22 1/4″
Sword no3: 21 1/2″
|Item 9: Quarter deck brass ships bell found on a shipwreck near Batam Singapore. Photos show the bell half way through cleaning and just after a mild polish to maintain its original patina. There were no marks found on the bell to determine its origin, weight 10 lbs, 8″ high x 8″ dia
Item 10: Four early Dutch long neck free blown Dutch wine bottles also know as “Hoof Wine Bottles” c1740 with twisted pontils. All are in excellent condition 7″-8″ tall and were dug in Ternate Dutch East Indies Indonesia
Item 11: Three late 18th century Dutch shipwreck bottles found on a shipwrecked Dutch East Indies retourship which is being salvaged off of the coast of Portugal. The two mallets are 9″ tall and the Dutch ” Cosmopoliet” gin is 11″ tall.
|Item 12: Early T’ang water jar c1618-906, 12″ high found on a shipwreck Tuban Indonesia
||Item 13: Free blown Dutch mallet wine bottle found on a Dutch East Indies shipwreck in the Dutch East Indies, c1700, 6 ½”
|Item 14: Early Renish salt glazed Bellarmine jug c1650 found in the Dutch East Indies shipwreck. Some external light crustacean 10 3/4″ high excellent condition
||Item 15: Martaban South East Asian storage jar 15th-16th century. Found at sea near Malaysia Timur 14″
|Item 16: Large masked Dutch saltglazed stoneware bellarmine jug c1700. Found Dutch East Indies. Probably VOC .Co 19 ½”
|Item 17: Early c1750 free blown Dutch onion wine bottle with twisted pontil with early rolled string lip 7″ in excellent condition. Found in the jungle Dutch East Indies||
Item 18: Four 17th century cannon balls recovered from a Dutch East Indies shipwreck in the Celebe Islands. All four in very good condition. Circumference from 8″ to 10″. Almost have no weight.
|Item 19: Dutch-Portuguese signal cannon in its original carriage. Found in a small village in Menado Sulawesi Utara Indonesia. Cannon measures 18″ long with a large 1 1/4″ bore, trunnion length 1 3/4″ with a 1″ dia, trunnion. Length of carriage is 37″ and is missing its front leg. I have inspected the brackets and nails holding the trunnions and they look to be hand made and the cannon looks to have been imbedded in the same position for some years. This item would make a beautiful display item
WAS $3,000 + shipping
Item 20: Early Ming plate found on a shipwreck near Ternate Moluccas Indonesia. 10½”.
Item 21: Mei-Ping Chinese flask. c1368. This large size is most unusual for this
type of early Mei-Ping flask which was
used in the early days by the Chinese to
store mercury. Measures 14″ high and was
found in the port of Tuban Indonesia on a
shipwreck. Stand not included.
Item 22: Early English seal “RHC 1815″ provenience, Richard Hall Clarke 1759-1821 was JP of Dridwell, Uffculme in Devon. Bottle was to commerate his return from the battle of Waterloo. 10 1/4” mint condition
Item 23: Early 16th century bronze breech lock for a Breech Loading cannon. This is a shipwreck item and was found near Ternate Dutch East Indies Indonesia. This breech lock is marked just above the touch hole which is rare. Length 10 3/4″, front dia 2 1/4″, rear dia 3″, weight est, 18 lbs. Photos of mark available on request
|Item 24: Early English seal bottle dug in Johannesburg S.A “RHC 1815″ Provenience, Richard Hall Clarke 1759-1821 was JP of Dridwell, Uffculme in Devon. Bottle was to commerate his return back from the battle of Waterloo. Bottle measures 10” high and has slight chip damage along outer top left hand side of seal.
Item 25: Early Dutch case sealed gins with rolled lips c1880. These two case gins were dug at Batavia Dutch East Indies.
The Portugeus Shipwreck treasures
Info International Shipwreck treasures end