The Chinese Imperial Ceramic Artwork Found In Indonesia ( continiu )






Dr Iwan Suwandy , MHA

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 Sunken Ship Found Treasure Ceramics and Jars from a old chinese Shipwreck in the South China Sea

Sunken Ship Found Treasure Ceramics and Jars from a old chinese Shipwreck in the South China Sea

3.3 Type and Motif Of Chinese Imperial Ceramic Artwork


Type And Motif Of Chinese Imperial Artwork Ceramic from

Shipwreck pottery

(By Sten Sjostrand)

Before sipwrecks were discovered there was little archaeological evidence available to help art historians date ancient pottery.

They theorised about origin, style of painting and choice of motifs, the kind of oxides used in the decorations and, in some cases, the density of the colour.

They also considered the type of clay used to mould the pot and the techniques involved in making the pottery.

But without a reference point much of this was educated guesswork mostly based on museum collections of unproven origin.  

 It was even thought that finer and more detailed decorations belonged to an earlier period and that somehow the art of decorating pots had devolved over time and become less refined 

The problem with this early method of dating is that it places too much emphasis on separating the different types of pottery into narrow time periods.

This has led to pieces that were actually made at the same time and place being given different dates. 

 Experts rarely considered the possibility that these different styles were produced contemporaneously.  

There was also little appreciation of the fact that not all of the potters and decorators would be equally skilled and that therefore some pots would look artistically superior to others.  

 In addition, these criteria were often applied to pieces in museum collections from unknown origins and so the research didn’t contribute to a long lasting chronology of ceramic ware. 

It’s in this area that historical shipwrecks have provided valuable new insights. 

 Most of the cargoes we’ve examined contained an array of pots, which according to the old way of dating, would have been made many years apart. 

But in fact most, if not all, of the objects found onboard these historic wrecks have revealed that a greater variety of ware was available than had previously been expected.

 It also seems clear that the production of different forms and styles of decoration overlapped and that each type was manufactured over a longer period than previously thought.

The contribution these shipwreck cargoes have made to the dating of ancient ceramics is one of the most important things to have come from their discovery and excavation.

Keramik Kapal Karam
(By Sten Sjostrand)

Sebelum sipwrecks ditemukan ada bukti arkeologi sedikit tersedia untuk membantu sejarawan seni saat tembikar kuno. Mereka berteori tentang asal, gaya lukisan dan pilihan motif, jenis oksida yang digunakan dalam dekorasi dan, dalam beberapa kasus, kepadatan warna. Mereka juga dianggap sebagai jenis tanah liat yang digunakan untuk cetakan panci dan teknik yang terlibat dalam pembuatan gerabah.

Tapi tanpa titik acuan banyak ini adalah dugaan berpendidikan sebagian besar didasarkan pada koleksi museum asal terbukti. Itu bahkan berpikir bahwa dekorasi halus dan lebih rinci milik periode sebelumnya dan bahwa entah bagaimana seni dekorasi pot telah diserahkan dari waktu ke waktu dan menjadi kurang halus

Masalah dengan metode ini awal kencan adalah bahwa hal itu menempatkan terlalu banyak penekanan pada memisahkan berbagai jenis gerabah dalam periode waktu yang sempit.

 Hal ini telah menyebabkan potongan-potongan yang benar-benar dilakukan pada waktu dan tempat yang sama diberi tanggal yang berbeda. Ahli jarang mempertimbangkan kemungkinan bahwa gaya yang berbeda yang diproduksi serentak. Ada juga sedikit apresiasi terhadap fakta bahwa tidak semua tembikar dan dekorator akan sama-sama terampil dan oleh karena itu beberapa pot akan terlihat artistik unggul dari orang lain. Selain itu, kriteria tersebut sering diterapkan untuk potongan dalam koleksi museum dari asal tidak diketahui sehingga penelitian tidak berkontribusi kronologi jangka panjang ware keramik.

Ini di daerah ini bahwa bangkai kapal sejarah telah memberikan wawasan baru yang berharga. Sebagian besar barang kami telah diperiksa berisi sebuah array pot, yang menurut cara lama berpacaran, akan telah dibuat bertahun-tahun terpisah. Namun pada kenyataannya sebagian besar, jika tidak semua, dari benda yang ditemukan onboard, ini bangkai kapal bersejarah telah mengungkapkan bahwa berbagai besar ware yang tersedia daripada yang sebelumnya telah diharapkan. Hal ini juga tampak jelas bahwa produksi berbagai bentuk dan gaya dekorasi tumpang tindih dan bahwa setiap jenis diproduksi periode yang lebih lama dari yang diperkirakan sebelumnya. Kontribusi tersebut kargo kapal karam telah dibuat untuk penanggalan keramik kuno adalah salah satu hal yang paling penting telah datang dari penemuan dan penggalian mereka


3.3.1 a


(11th century)

The Tanjung Simpang ship

Wreck location
Brown glazed kendi
Bronze gong
Copper ingot
Same marks on bronze & ceramics

The wreck found off Tanjung Simpangmangayau, in the north of Sabah, carried a cargo of Chinese ceramics tentatively dated to the Northern Song dynasty (960-1126 AD). Some pi


A 1000 year-old wreck site providing archeology and art history with new information

The Tanjung Simpang shipwreck site, the oldest in Malaysian waters, was unusual in many ways. 

 It was the only site the company discovered in shallow water and close to shore. The site was heavily looted by local fishermen.

Despite this looting, a number of Sung dynasty ceramic wares and few hundred kilos of pottery shards were recovered together with bronze gongs.

Some of these gongs were signed with Chinese characters, painted on the reverse

It has been known for a long time that the ancient Chinese potters made markings in the base of his pots to identify each individuals wares after its firing. These markings are referred to as “potters marks”.

Few of the Tg. Simpang ceramic wares had “potters marks” painted in the base of the pots. These characters are however masterly executed, and question its signing by a lesser educated potter

Luckily, the bronze gongs remaining on the site showed identical painted characters as those seen on the pottery. Such identical markings should start a new debate about whom and when the artifacts were signed and for what purpose. The main point of contention seems to be if the pots were ‘signed’ before or after it firing and if it should continually be referred to as “potters marks”.

One argument presented here, with the evidences from the Tanjung Simpang shipwreck, is that these markings were not “potters marks” but markings made by the Captain or an onboard merchants to identify their individual objects when reaching their destination.


Directed to an area off Tanjung Simpang-mangayau, the northwestern point of Sabah, by a local fisherman (who prefers to remain anonymous) the site was discovered on the 15th of April 2003. It was located 400 meters from the shore and in twelve meters of water.

The surface of the site is sandy but close to the fringing reef edge. The only indication of a shipwreck was stacks of bronze gongs that could be discerned above the flat seabed. This sandy layer varied between two and three feet in depth and is likely to have accumulated after the ship sunk.

This location is directly exposed to the northeast monsoon winds that generate large waves, which increases in height as they meet shallower water. After sinking, the ship appears to have landed on coral rocks. Pounding on these rocks by every wave, the ship is likely to have broken up almost immediately. This theory seems supported by the number of artefacts found scattered between the rocks.

Assuming that the ship sailed directly from China, it may have been damaged on the reefs extending east and west from Pulao Kalampunian and then sunk before the shore at Tanjung Simpangmangayau.

3.3.1 b



(AD. c. 1370)

Chinese Ceramics From the Shipwreck Turiang 14th Century

Around 1400, a Chinese ‘junk’ sank off the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula. The ship was probably sailing from Ayutthaya, then capital of Thailand, to Indonesia. The cargo was stoneware, mostly with green and brown glazes, from Thailand (57%), southern China (35%) and Vietnam (8%).

Archeology on this shipwreck site adds both information and confusion to today’s art history.

The archeology and the early Ming pottery found on the site suggest that present knowledge need review.  For More information about the importance of the Turiang shipwreck and its mixed ceramic cargo,

It was thought in the 70’s that potters moved from Sukhothai to start additional kilns at Sisatchanalai when sources for better clay were discovered in that area. Sisatchanalai, it was supposed, first made a few fishplates in imitation of Sukhothai and then concentrated their production on the main body of their ceramics, which included pottery like underglaze black and celadon wares


This chronology was adjusted in the 1980s after archaeological excavations at the Sisatchanalai kiln complex.

These showed that these kilns were more ancient, and definitely larger than Sukhothai.


Consequently, it became accepted that the Sisatchanalai site was the earliest producer of hign-fired ceramics and consistently manufactured larger numbers of ware than Sukhothai.


 Then it was thought that the Sukhothai kilns might not have made more ceramics until the 15th century, and that they produced only about 10-12% as much as Sisatchanali.

This seemed like a reasonable conclusion, since at least 800 kilns have been counted at Sisatchanalai but only 50 have been noted at Sukhothai.



There have however been no comprehensive excavations at the Sukhothai site, much of which was destroyed for the building of a new road within the Sukhothai Historical Park.


Various scholars devised theories to explain the differences in size and the relationships between the two kiln sites.


 It was thought that Sukhothai might have had insufficient clay resources and/or the Sisatchanalai site was simply better managed.


Shipwreck pottery recovered in the Bay of Thailand generally supported the idea that Sukhothai was a relatively minor producer.


This company’s discovery of four fully loaded wrecks, all with Thai pottery, did little to contradict the idea of lesser numbers of ware from Sukhothai.


The Longquan wreck did however indicate that the low percentage of Sukhothai exports might not be correct after all, at least not during all periods.


The cargo from this early Ming-period wreck comprised about 20% Sukhothai wares, and only 40% Sisatchanali ceramics.


The remainder of the wares came from China. In this one instance the proportion of Sukhothai wares to Sisatchanalai was 1:2.


Then came the discovery of the Turiang wreck. Not only is the proportion of wares surprising, the date for the founding of the Sukhothai kilns must also be revised.


Thousands of Sukhothai fish plates were seen on the first dive, without any example from Sisatchanalai in sight.


This, despite the fact that the ship was headed for Indonesia, a major market for Thai ceramics.


Further investigation did reveal Sisatchanalai wares but in limited numbers and from a time before the Sukhothai kilns are believed to have opened.


The obvious conclusion is that the Sukhothai kilns were in operation earlier than supposed, at the same time that the so-called ‘Mon’ wares (which are the type recovered) were being produced at Sisatchanalai.


 This Mon group of wares has been securely dated by radiocarbon samples from the kiln site to the mid 14th century. Thus it seems that the Sukhothai kilns must have begun exporting before the time of the Ming ban in AD. 1369.


The few Chinese ceramics recovered, indeed, are types traditionally assigned to the Yuan dynasty (AD. 1279-1368).


While the Turiang cargo may not exactly represent the proportions of production at the two main kiln centers in the Sukhothai kingdom, it gives pause for thought. It is even possible that brick-built kilns were first introduced at Sukhothai and then copied at Sisatchanalai, where in-ground non-brick kilns were previously in use.



The cargo also suggests that the first major exports of Thai pottery came from the Sukhothai rather than Sisatchanalai site.


 Of course, by the 15th century, when the Sisatchanalai potters were producing higher quality ceramics, they became the major source.


In suggesting a time when Sukhothai was the major supplier, it is interesting to review old data from the Philippines. H. Otley Beyer, who first looked at the presence of Thai ceramics in the islands, was convinced that Sukhothai wares typified lower stratigraphic levels.


Sisatchanalai wares, he believed, came later and were associated with 15th-century Chinese blue and white ceramics. It should be noted, incidentally, that 95% of the ceramics from the Turiang wreck are highly deteriorated after their long submersion in salt water. This makes the few intact examples extremely valuable.

In summary, it is believed that the Turiang wreck sank at a time in the 14th century, possibly around the very beginning of the Chinese Ming dynasty in AD. 1368.

3.3.1 c

Nanyang shipwreck

(AD. c. 1380)

Nanyang, a 14th century shipwreck was located in Malaysian Territorial water 11 miles from nearest island. She was loaded with now antique celadon wares from the famous Sisatchanalai kilns. The ship was found ten miles from Tioman island, a popular tourist spot and a popular stopover for seafarers since the 9th century.

The construction details noted thus far, which includes transversal bulkheads, joined with wooden dowels, fits a South China Sea type ship. The site has been surveyed but not yet excavated as much of the ships feature and the ceramics onboard are similar to that of the Royal Nanhai. The length of the vessel appear to be 18 meters and the beam 5 meters and it may have carried as much as 10.000 pieces of pottery, primarily celadon from the Sisatchanalai kilns, many of them showing scars from the use of spur discs.

Celadons dishes with spur marks have hardly ever been documented and seem to indicate an early production technique. Because the same type of dish, when found onboard the Royal Nanhai, does not have these spur marks, it is believed that the Nanyang is an earlier shipwreck perhaps dating to the later part of the 14th century. All evidence from the kiln site suggests that celadon dishes with spur marks are earlier than similar dishes without them. The larger storage jars on the Nanyang also suggest an earlier date. The tentative date for the loss of the Nanyang is therefore set to the period 1372-1390.

Four hundred and two pieces recovered from the wreck, for comparison purposes, were deposited in the collection of the Malacca Museum Corporation, State of Malacca. Malaysia. Without the promised conservation and registration, the artefacts were later returned to the company for proper treatment.



Early celadon cups from the Sisatchanalai kilns



Celadon jarlets and water dropper from Sisatchanalai



Incised decortaions in the early days at the Sisatchanali kilns was simple but elegant3.3.1 d

Longquan shipwreck

(AD. c. 1400)

The Longquan shipwreck was located in 63 meters of water, 22 nautical miles from the nearest Malaysian Island. She was loaded with 15th century antique celadon wares of the best quality. The site is only surface investigated but is expected  to provide archeology and art history with new archaeological data. The ship seems to have been a rather large Chinese junk seemingly measuring more than 30 meters in length, with a beam of 8 meters. The Longquan is the largest Ming-period shipwreck found fully loaded

Celadons from the Sisatchanalai kilns feature incised decorations. A smaller number of plates shows large tubular support scars, suggesting that the traditional stacking method is being phased out(Copy longqusn celadon with low quality colour Driwan found this plate at West Borneo and also the original  longquan celadon)

compare with the longquan original also found below


Chinese celadon from the famous Longquan kilns was probably loaded in China, where the ship is likely to have departed

3.3.1 e


(AD. c. 1460)

Over 20,000 ceramics were discovered in a vessel found north of the Turiang wreck.

The Royal Nanhai’s cargo consisted almost entirely of green- and brown-glazed stonewares of 1450-1500 made at Si Satchanalai in Thailand. The wares were probably being shipped to Indonesia. The discovery shows the success of the Si Satchanalai kilns in supplying this trade

The ceramic not upload because this werenot chinese imperial ware

3.3.1. f



(AD. c. 1540)

While the outline of the finds produced an acoustic image of a sea going vessel, approximately 28 x 8 meters in size, on site investigation did not produced any evidence of timber. Scattered ceramics on the surface of the seabed outlined the shape of a wreck but the finds extended only a few inches into the muddy sea floor. Despite extensive scanning with a sub-bottom profiler and a magnetometer, plus probing three meters into the sea bed with water jets, no wood fragments at all could be found.

The ceramics recovered include Chinese blue and white porcelain and monochrome white-glazed wares, Sisatchanalai celadon and underglaze black decorated wares, as well as Sukhothai underglaze black decorated bowls. Seven of the Chinese pieces display the reign mark of the emperor Xuande (AD 1426-1435). These pieces were probably made after the end of that reign, however, sometime in the late 15th century or mid 16th century. The Sukhothai samples, with their ‘solar whorl’ motifs, tend to confirm this later date. The whorl design is believed to belong to the later years of the Sukhothai kilns.

Excavation of the Xuande site was discontinued since no further evidence has warranted additional search and/or recovery attempts. Since the ceramics recovered from this site include examples of at least 20 different designs of Chinese ware, along with some Thai pieces, and the age of the pieces is still controversial, the assemblage should remain intact. One single museum is sought to accommodate the entire collection of some 250 artefacts.

…..It was therefore concluded that the ship sunk in the middle of the 16th century but carried a few ceramics that were already old. The concept of an early trade in antique ceramics, is beginning to be considered by some scholars.

Despite earlier date on the ceramics, it was the Sukhothai underglaze wares and these, Portuguese cannons that eventually confirmed an mid 16th century date for the shipwreck site.

Ewer without any Reignmark with Chrysanthenum moti


Chrysanthenum motif Ewer


with emperor Xuande’s (1425-1436) reign mark

in the base


Reign mark in bowls

3.3.1 g



(AD. c. 1550)

The Singtai shipwreck lies at a depth of 53 meters, 12 nautical miles from the island of Pulau Redang off the north-eastern coast of peninsular Malaysia.  The site was discovered in April 2001 and only a brief surface survey on the seabed has been conducted thus far.  The survey revealed a heavily loaded vessel perhaps 22 meters in length.  The construction of the ship which includes transverse bulkheads made from soft wood (joined by square iron nails) suggest that it may have been built in China.

the collections not upload because  this werenot chinese imperial ware

3.3.1 h



(AD. C. 1625)

The Wanli

Ming dynasty porcelain, kraak porcelain and other antique Chinese porcelain from the Wanli shipwreck. This site also offers information about Jingdezhen pottery development, other shipwreck pottery and antique Chinese export porcelain as well as pages for Chinese pottery marks and Asian antiques



A small kraak dish from the Wanli (c.1625) shipwreck. This dish is more than likely made at the Guangyinge kiln complex (Jingdezhen, China) where we have located production waster similar to this dish. The main decorative motifs are Chinese auspicious symbols wishing for a healthy and long life. The dish is totally intact with good glaze and soft decoration and limited ‘tender edges’



Zhushan butterfly bowl from the Wanli (c.1625) shipwreck. Similar butterfly bowls are reportedly found at the Zhushan (imperial) kilns at Jingdezhen, China, during excavations in the late 1990’s. Although not likely made at those kiln, it is possible that this bowl was made by an imperial Zhushan potter after the ‘official’ factory was closed in 1608. This bowl was found in two parts but now restored. The glaze surface is satin and the rendering in high contrast. The rim is smooth and free from ‘tender edges’. The base show a apocryphal six character (Chenghua Nian Zao) reign mark of emperor Chenghua (1464-1487)



A RARE peony dish painted in reserve where the background, rather than the motif, is painted in blue. The painting is crispy blue and well executed. The rim has, as it should, some ‘tender edges. The dish is intact although with some warping and limited glaze (surface) deterioration.


This kraak plate shows a grasshopper on a rock below a lotus arrangement. The plate is in good condition with contrasty decoration and no tender edges’  whilst here is a small, short, shallow rim repair at 7 o’clock. Grasshopper is a rather rare motif in the Wanli cargo. The plate will be delivered  with a Certificate of Authenticity



This fungus bowl belongs to the ‘best available’ group of ceramic artefacts from the Wanli shipwreck site. It shows a series of fungus liangcao motifs. This plant is a rare Chinese herbal medicine reputed as “elixir of life”. The bowl is totally intact with little ‘tender edges’along the rim. The glaze is in a very good glossy condition and the resonance of the bowl is very high pitch

Large Character Bowl


This RARE and much south after character type of bowl depicts Shou Lao, the God of longevity, riding a crane above crested waves in the well. The exterior decoration feature four medallions, each depicting two of the Eight Immortals, surrounded by repeated shou (longevity) characters.  This repeated use of the the shou character  is known as Bai Shou Tu in Chinese, meaning the ‘Picture of One Hundred shou characters’ and is very common in Chinese traditional work of art. These bowls are traditionally an excellent gift as they provide wishes for long life. The Eight Immortals are the favorite pantheon in Daoism.

Character bowl W-5908 is well made with all decorations perfectly executed and in high contrast This bowl is intact except for a rim repair which is hard to see. A fine hairline has been professionally mended and the resonance of the bowl is fully restored and now provide a high pitch sound when tapped. The base is glazed and show the (apocryphal) reign mark of emperor Chenghua whom ruled China between 1464 – 1487. The bowl will be delivered with a Certificate of Authenticity The diameter of the bowl is 22 centimeter.


Ming Wanli Turtle Motif Bowl.


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