The Chinese Imperial Ceramic Artwork Found In Indonesia ( continiu )






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,

 Dasaru Shipwreck

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”.
In excellent condition with some
crustacean on backside. c1850.
Stand not included.

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.
Left A.H Avanhoboken.Co



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Dr Iwan Suwandy , MHA

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Kuan Yin (Guan Yin) 

 Kuan Yin


In Buddhism, individuals exist that are known as bodhisattvas, which do not attain enlightenment until they have helped many others attain enlightenment, and are viewed as princes of the heavens (Prebish, 1993, p. 74). Kuan Yin, also called Avalokitesvara in India is seen as the bodhisattva of compassion and wisdom, since he aids those who ask for his help (Prebish, 1993, p.60). Bodhisattvas are seen as princes of the heavens and deities of compassion, who prolong their own enlightenment in order to help others achieve a state of enlightenment. As befitting the bodhisattva of compassion, his name means, “the lord who looks down” and is seen as a servant of the Buddha. Kuan Yin first appeared in India, as the bodhisattva of mercy, Padmapani, then was known as either Lokiteshvara or Avalokitesvara (Craven, 1997, p.172). He was finally transformed into the female Kuan Yin or Guan Yin in China and Japan, as the bodhisattva of mercy or compassion (Craven, 1997, p. 172). In India, Kuan Yin is seen as a male and in China and Japan as a female, and is usually depicted by the Chinese as wearing a long, flowing white robe (Anaya, 1993, p.1). It is not unusual for a bodhisattva to be viewed as both female and male, since they are able to transform themselves as such, in order to visit people (Anaya, 1993, p. 2). This sculpture is identifiable as Kuan Yin for several reasons, the first being that the majority of Chinese and Japanese depictions of Kuan Yin are more feminine in appearance, also the statue is shown in a pose which Kuan Yin is usually shown in with legs crossed with one raised upward and an arm resting on the raised leg. Despite the slightly more effeminate features, the figure as a whole appears more neuter in gender.
Descriptive Analysis
The statue is quite small in stature, no more than several inches, and is petite as well. The statue would be fairly lightweight, as it is made from porcelain, and is not very tall, it is also most likely smooth to touch since it is finished with a glaze. The statue, after being formed, would most likely be sanded down, polished to give it a smooth surface, and then a glaze applied to make it even smoother and shiny. The porcelain would be composed of a whitish clay, and after being smoothed and polished, the statue would be given the ivory hued glaze. It is triangular shaped with a wider base and narrow, slightly pointed top, the legs are crossed with the right leg folded under and the left leg at a forty-five degree angle. The left arm rests on the left leg with the hand elongated and lightly resting upon the knee, the right arm rests behind the hips and appears to be propping the body upward, with the right hand resting flat on the ground. The chest is flat and upright along with the rest of the body, with the monastic robe draped over both of the shoulders. The shoulders lay flat and are squared towards the viewer, the robe is folded and draped over both shoulders, with the robe falling down on the chest in a V-shape. The head is oval shaped with the hair wrapped around the top of the head with either a comb or bun resting on top, atop the hair is a veil which seems to be a part of the monastic robe.

The facial features are Asian in origin with the eyes cast downward, the nose rather large and the lips thin. The ears in particular, are stretched out, similar to a Buddha’s, indicative that the bodhisattva was a very rich person in the former life, before becaming a religious figure. The robe worn by the bodhisattva is draped on the body in multiple, elaborate folds on the shoulders, along the arms, at the bottom of the chest, and particularly along the hips and legs. The bodhisattva also sits on top of a large portion of his robe, using it as a sort of cushion. All of the arms and legs are covered, with only the left hand and foot showing, the chest is half-bare all the way down to the stomach. The figure is elongated in an elegant manner, with the robe clinging to the body in a loose manner. The bodhisattva Kuan Yin would normally be shown with a lotus flower or willow branch in either hand, to help identify him as Kuan Yin, which is curiously left out of the statue.


Kuan Yin or Guan Yin was initially known in India as Avalokitesvara, the lord who looks down and although he was relatively unknown at first, he became one of the more important bodhisattvas of Buddhism (Prebish, 1993, p.60). Avalokitesvara became a major figure in Buddhism after he was depicted in the Pure Land Sutras as one of the attendants to the Buddha, he is thought to be the embodiment of compassion after constantly purifying himself for years (Prebish, 1993, p.60). In addition to representing compassion, he also represents wisdom, both of which are important qualities of Buddhahood (Prebish, 1993, p.60). Having a deity which wholly represents compassion is restricted to Buddhism and is not found in any other world religion, resulting in centuries of devotion and worship by followers from all of socitey (Karetzky, 2004, p.1). In addition, Avalokitesvara was known as one of the Buddha’s attendants, but eventually evolved into a separate deity, viewed as a redeemer or guardian (Karetzkky, 2004, p.1). In China and Japan, Avalokitesvara was called either Kuan Yin or Guan Yin, and morphed into a female deity, after it became known that the deity appeared as a woman on numerous occaisions (Karetzky, 2004, p.2-3). In China, numerous female deities were formed into new ones, which developed into goddess cults, thus, Kuan Yin is seen as both a male and female deity depending on what country is being examined (Karetzky, 2004, p.3).

Kuan Yin is frequently shown with or on either a lotus, which is a symbol of enlightenment, or a willow branch, riding around on either a cloud or dragon (Dawn, 2005, p.1). In China and Japan Kuan, Yin is usually shown wearing a long, flowing white robe, and in India, Avalokitesvara is shown either a monastic robe, or in a shirt and pants with a lot of jewelry on the body. In this instance, Kuan Yin is shown with a simple robe and no adornments which is symbolic of a monastic or religious life, he is also shown with long, and stretched ears, which indicate a lot of wealth in the former life. The belief was that the more money a person had, the larger and heavier the gold earrings would have been, and the earrings in turn stretched out the ears from their weight, which became a symbol of wealth. Kuan Yin is also sometimes seen with many arms and heads in order to help those in need of his help (Prebish, 1993, 60). During the Ming Dynasty, Kuan Yin sculptures were generally in temples and was portrayed as having a thousand eyes and arms, murals of Kuan Yin were not of importance and were typically shown in the traditional scenes from the life of the Buddha (Karetzky, 2004, p.57). Temples also housed printed and woodcut stories of Kuan Yin as well as, smaller depictions of scented wood and softer stone (Karetzky, 2004, p.57). Small icons of Kuan Yin were also made for the home and were fashioned from materials such as porcelain, bronze, jade, and ivory, which were richer mediums for art (Karetzky, 2004, p.57).

During the Ming Dynasty, artists payed particular attention to showing their art as lifelike, taking into consideration posture, mood, the deity’s symbols, in order to make their work as accurate as possible (Karetzky, 2004, p.57). In addition, artists liked to covey the deity’s character by careful observation and great attention to the detail, which was important to the patrons, since the sculpture would have been used for private worship at home (Karetzky, 2004, p.57).

Bodhisattvas are sometimes shown to be decidedly female or male, although in this instance, Kuan Yin is portrayed as a neuter or asexual being, which is standard of the original belief that bodhisattvas can make themselves appear as either sex. Although this depiction of Kuan Yin is kept simple with just a robe, hair comb, and veil, Kuan Yin is usually shown holding a lotus or a willow branch, the lotus typically represents enlightenment, and the willow branch symbolizing fertility. Kuan Yin is typically shown in a long and flowing white robe, symbolizing purity, although the statue is entirely ivory, it is still associated with purity. The bodhisattva is shown in a seated position with one knee raised upward, which helps to identify it as Kuan Yin, the bodhisattva is typically shown in such a manner, because legend says that Kuan Yin was seated in the same pose as she gazed into a pond, when people sought her out (Unknown, “Guanyin,” p.1).

Personal Interpretation
This smaller depiction of Kuan Yin is very pleasant to behold, and the deity seems to have a great deal of peace surrounding it, which suits the bodhisattva’s attributes of compassion and wisdom. The statue possesses clear masculine and feminine features, the manly features inlcude; a flat chest, no visible curves to the figure, the broad shoulders, and the manner in which the bodhisattva sits. The feminine features are the elongated and graceful hands, hair which is pulled up by a hair comb and covered by a veil, the downcast eyes, and finer facial features. The robe is clinging to the body, which is shown to be more fleshy in the face, which is more rounded, and in the legs. The statue is portrayed in such a way that coincides perfectly with the legend of Kuan Yin being found sitting next to a pond and gazing into the water, the face is very serene and the pose relaxed to suggest Kuan Yin was not meditating or performing a religious task. Personally, I find that the bodhisattva’s relaxed pose, serene face, and calm demeanor is what makes this particular statue so tranquil in appearance and in air, although the artist is unknown, he or she was very gifted to be able to portray a lifelike person in such a manner. Overall, Kuan Yin has been wonderfully portrayed, particularly in conveying the serenity of the bodhisattva, it is no wonder that such tasteful piece was used for the wealthy and nobility of the time.



Laozi (see other names and spelling variations; Chinese: 老子, English pronunciation: /ˌlˈdzʌ/;[1][2] fl. 6th century BCE) was a philosopher of ancient China, best known as the author of the Tao Te Ching (often simply referred to as Laozi).[3] His association with the Tào Té Chīng has led him to be traditionally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism (pronounced as “Daoism”). He is also revered as a deity in most religious forms of Taoist philosophy, which often refers to Laozi as Taishang Laojun, or “One of the Three Pure Ones“.

According to Chinese traditions, Laozi lived in the 6th century BCE. Some historians contend that he actually lived in the 5th–4th century BCE, concurrent with the Hundred Schools of Thought and Warring States period,[4] while some others argue that Laozi is a synthesis of multiple historical figures or that he is a mythical figure.

A central figure in Chinese culture, both nobility and common people claim Laozi in their lineage. He was honored as an ancestor of the Tang imperial family, and was granted the title Táishāng xuānyuán huángdì, meaning “Supreme Mysterious and Primordial Emperor”. Throughout history, Laozi’s work has been embraced by various anti-authoritarian movements.


“Laozi” (Chinese: 老子; pinyin: Lǎozǐ[pronunciation?]) is an honorific title, also romanized as Lao Tse, Lao Tu, Lao-Tsu, Laotze, Lao Tzu, Laosi, Laocius, etc. Lao () means “venerable” or “old”, such as modern Mandarin laoshi (老师), “teacher”. Zi (), Wade–Giles transliteration tzu, in this context is typically translated as “master”. Zi was used in ancient China as an honorific suffix, indicating “Master”, or “Sir”. In popular biographies, Laozi’s given name was Er, his surname was Li (forming Li Er, ) and his courtesy name was Boiang. Dan is a posthumous name given to Laozi, and he is sometimes referred to as Li Dan ().[5][6][7]

Historical views[edit]

The earliest reliable reference (circa 100 BCE) to Laozi is found in the Records of the Grand Historian (Shiji) by Chinese historian Sima Qian (ca. 145-86 BCE), which combines a number of stories. In the first, Laozi was said to be a contemporary of Confucius (551-479 BCE). His surname was Li (李 “plum”), and his personal name was Er (耳 “ear”) or Dan (聃 “long ear”). He was an official in the imperial archives, and wrote a book in two parts before departing to the West. In the second, Laozi was Lao Laizi (老莱子 “Old Master”), also a contemporary of Confucius, who wrote a book in 15 parts. In the third, Laozi was the Grand Historian and astrologer Lao Dan (老聃 “Old Long-ears”), who lived during the reign (384-362 BCE) of Duke Xiàn (獻公) of Qin.[8][9]

The oldest known text of the Tao Te Ching that has been excavated was written on bamboo tablets and dates back to the late 4th century BC.[3]

In the mid-twentieth century a consensus had emerged among scholars that the historicity of Laozi was doubtful or unprovable and that the Tao Te Ching was “a compilation of Taoist sayings by many hands.”[10] Alan Watts (1975) held that this view was part of an academic fashion for skepticism about historical spiritual and religious figures, arguing that not enough would be known for years, or possibly ever, to make a firm judgment.[11]

According to popular traditional biographies, Laozi worked as the Keeper of the Archives for the royal court of Zhou, and was a scholar (shown in many Lao Zi paintings).[12] This reportedly allowed him broad access to the works of the Yellow Emperor and other classics of the time. The stories assert that Laozi never opened a formal school, but he nonetheless attracted a large number of students and loyal disciples. There are numerous variations of a story depicting Confucius consulting Laozi about rituals and the story is related in Zhuangzi (though the author of Zhuangzi may have invented both the story and the character of Laozi).[13][14]

Popular legends tell of his conception when his mother gazed upon a falling star, how he stayed in the womb for 62 years, and was born when his mother leaned against a plum tree. He accordingly emerged a grown man with a full grey beard and long earlobes, which are a symbol of wisdom and long life.[15][16] In other versions he was reborn in some thirteen incarnations since the days of Fuxi; in his last incarnation as Laozi he lived to nine hundred and ninety years, and spent his life traveling to reveal the Dao.[17]

According to legends, Laozi leaves China on his water buffalo.[18]

Many of the popular accounts say that Laozi was married and had a son named Zong, who became a celebrated soldier. A large number of people trace their lineage back to Laozi, as did the emperors of the Tang Dynasty.[19] According to Simpkins & Simpkins, while many (if not all) of the lineages are inaccurate, they provide a testament to the impact of Laozi on Chinese culture.[20]

Laozi meets Yinxi

The third story Sima Qian drew on states that Laozi grew weary of the moral decay of city life and noted the kingdom’s decline. According to these legends, he ventured west to live as a hermit in the unsettled frontier at the age of 160. At the western gate of the city, or kingdom, he was recognized by a guard, Yinxi (Wade Giles Yin Hse).

The sentry asked the old master to produce a record of his wisdom. This is the legendary origin of the Daodejing. In some versions of the tale, the sentry is so touched by the work that he leaves with Laozi, never to be seen again. Some legends elaborate further that the “Old Master” was the teacher of the Siddartha Gautama, better known as the Buddha, or was even the Buddha himself.[13][21]

Laozi’s relationship with Yinxi is the subject of numerous legends. It is Yinxi who asked Laozi to write down his wisdom in the traditional account of the Daodejing’s creation. The story of Laozi transmitting the Daodejing to Yinxi is part of a broader theme involving Laozi the deity delivering salvific truth to a suffering humanity. Regardless, the deliverance of the Daodejing was the ultimate purpose of his human incarnation. Folklore developed around Laozi and Yinxi to demonstrate the ideal interaction of Taoist master and disciple.[22]

Depiction of Laozi in Edward Theodore Chalmers Werner‘s Myths and Legends of China

A seventh century work, Sandong zhunang (“Pearly Bag of the Three Caverns”), provides one account of their relationship. Laozi pretended to be a farmer when reaching the western gate, but was recognized by Yinxi, who asked to be taught by the great master. Laozi was not satisfied by simply being noticed by the guard and demanded an explanation. Yinxi expressed his deep desire to find the Tao and explained that his long study of astrology allowed him to recognize Laozi’s approach. Yinxi was accepted by Laozi as a disciple. This is considered an exemplary interaction between Daoist master and disciple, reflecting the testing a seeker must undergo before being accepted. A would-be adherent is expected to prove his determination and talent, clearly expressing his wishes and showing that he had made progress on his own towards realizing the Tao.[23]

The Pearly Bag of the Three Caverns continues the parallel of an adherent’s quest. Yinxi received his ordination when Laozi transmitted the Daodejing, along with other texts and precepts, just as Taoist adherents receive a number of methods, teachings and scriptures at ordination. This is only an initial ordination and Yinxi still needed an additional period to perfect his faith, thus Laozi gave him three years to perfect his Dao. Yinxi gave himself over to a full-time devotional life. After the appointed time, Yinxi again demonstrates determination and perfect trust, sending out a black sheep to market as the agreed sign. He eventually meets again with Laozi, who announces that Yinxi’s immortal name is listed in the heavens and calls down a heavenly procession to clothe Yinxi in the garb of immortals. The story continues that Laozi bestowed a number of titles upon Yinxi and took him on a journey throughout the universe, even into the nine heavens. After this fantastic journey, the two sages set out to western lands of the barbarians. The training period, reuniting and travels represent the attainment of the highest religious rank in medieval Taoism called “Preceptor of the Three Caverns”. In this legend, Laozi is the perfect Daoist master and Yinxi is the ideal Taoist student. Laozi is presented as the Tao personified, giving his teaching to humanity for their salvation. Yinxi follows the formal sequence of preparation, testing, training and attainment.[24]

The story of Laozi has taken on strong religious overtones since the Han dynasty. As Daoism took root, Laozi was recognized as a god. Belief in the revelation of the Dao from the divine Laozi resulted in the formation of the Way of the Celestial Master, the first organized religious Daoist sect. In later mature Daoist tradition, Laozi came to be seen as a personification of Dao. He is said to have undergone numerous “transformations”, or taken on various guises in various incarnations throughout history to initiate the faithful in the Way. Religious Daoism often holds that the “Old Master” did not disappear after writing the Daodejing, but rather spent his life traveling to reveal the Dao.[17]

Lao Tzu was born in the village of Chu Jen in the Kingdom of Ch’u. (He may have been born sometime in the sixth century B.C.E. [Before the Common Era]. Traditionally, he is said to have lived at the same time as Confucius, but recent scholars place him about two centuries later.) Lao Tzu spent most of his life as an archivist in the library of the Zhou Dynasty court, a boring job that gave him lots of time to think. He quit when he saw things were getting corrupt, and then went into exile. Lao Tzu became disturbed by the corruption he saw everywhere around him and decided to take the easy way out- literally, and leave the country. He traveled west on a water buffalo to reach the great desert. At the westernmost gate, a guard who recognized him, demanded that he write down his teachings, unrecorded until this point. The collected teachings became the Tao Te Ching.[25]

Tao Te Ching[edit]

See also: Tao Te Ching, Tao, and Wu wei

Laozi is traditionally regarded as the author of the Daodejing (Tao Te Ching), though the identity of its author(s) and/or compiler(s) has been debated throughout history.[26][27] It is one of the most significant treatises in Chinese cosmogony. As with most other ancient Chinese philosophers, Laozi often explains his ideas by way of paradox, analogy, appropriation of ancient sayings, repetition, symmetry, rhyme, and rhythm. In fact, the whole book can be read as an analogy – the ruler is the awareness, or self, in meditation and the myriad creatures or empire is the experience of the body, senses and desires. Passages such as “Block the openings, shut the doors” and “the sage who does nothing never ruins anything” refer to sitting in meditation. “Keep the people ignorant” means do not pay attention to the senses and thoughts.

The Tao Te Ching, often called simply Laozi after its reputed author, describes the Dao (or Tao) as the source and ideal of all existence: it is unseen, but not transcendent, immensely powerful yet supremely humble, being the root of all things. According to the Daodejing, humans have no special place within the Dao, being just one of its many (“ten thousand”) manifestations. People have desires and free will (and thus are able to alter their own nature). Many act “unnaturally”, upsetting the natural balance of the Dao. The Daodejing intends to lead students to a “return” to their natural state, in harmony with Dao.[28] Language and conventional wisdom are critically assessed. Taoism views them as inherently biased and artificial, widely using paradoxes to sharpen the point.[29]

Livia Kohn provides an example of how Laozi encouraged a change in approach, or return to “nature”, rather than action. Technology may bring about a false sense of progress. The answer provided by Laozi is not the rejection of technology, but instead seeking the calm state of wu wei, free from desires. This relates to many statements by Laozi encouraging rulers to keep their people in “ignorance“, or “simple-minded”. Some scholars insist this explanation ignores the religious context, and others question it as an apologetic of the philosophical coherence of the text. It would not be unusual political advice if Laozi literally intended to tell rulers to keep their people ignorant. However, some terms in the text, such as “valley spirit” (gushen) and “soul” (po), bear a metaphysical context and cannot be easily reconciled with a purely ethical reading of the work.[29]

Wu wei (無爲), literally “non-action” or “not acting”, is a central concept of the Daodejing. The concept of wu wei is multifaceted, and reflected in the words’ multiple meanings, even in English translation; it can mean “not doing anything”, “not forcing”, “not acting” in the theatrical sense, “creating nothingness”, “acting spontaneously”, and “flowing with the moment.”[30]

It is a concept used to explain ziran (自然), or harmony with the Dao. It includes the concepts that value distinctions are ideological and seeing ambition of all sorts as originating from the same source. Laozi used the term broadly with simplicity and humility as key virtues, often in contrast to selfish action. On a political level, it means avoiding such circumstances as war, harsh laws and heavy taxes. Some Taoists see a connection between wu wei and esoteric practices, such as zuowang “sitting in oblivion” (emptying the mind of bodily awareness and thought) found in the Zhuangzi.[29]

Some of Laozi’s famous sayings include:

“When goodness is lost, it is replaced by morality.””The usefulness of a pot comes from its emptiness.””The best people are like water, which benefits all things and does not compete with them. It stays in lowly places that others reject. This is why it is so similar to the Way.””When people see some things as beautiful, other things become ugly. When people see some things as good, other things become bad.”

“Try to change it and you will ruin it. Try to hold it and you will lose it.”

—Laozi, Tao Te Ching


See also: Daoism

Laozi is traditionally regarded as the founder of Taoism, intimately connected with the Daodejing and “primordial” (or “original”) Daoism. Popular (“religious”) Daoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as the official head deity. Intellectual (“elite”) Daoists, such as the Celestial Masters sect, usually present Laozi (Laojun, “Lord Lao”) and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon of deities.[31][32]


A stone sculpture of Laozi, located north of Quanzhou at the foot of Mount Qingyuan


Zhuāngzi (莊子) is a central authority regarding eremitism, a particular variation of monasticism sacrificing social aspects for religious aspects of life. Zhuāngzi considered eremitism the highest ideal, if properly understood.[33]

Scholars such as Aat Vervoom have postulated that Zhuāngzi advocated a hermit immersed in society. This view of eremitism holds that seclusion is hiding anonymously in society. To a Zhuāngzi hermit, being unknown and drifting freely is a state of mind. This reading is based on the “inner chapters” of the self-titled Zhuangzi.[34]

Scholars such as James Bellamy hold that this could be true and has been interpreted similarly at various points in Chinese history. However, the “outer chapters” of Zhuāngzi have historically played a pivotal role in the advocacy of reclusion. While some scholars state that Laozi was the central figure of Han Dynasty eremitism, historical texts do not seem to support that position.[35]


Potential officials throughout Chinese history drew on the authority of non-Confucian sages, especially Laozi and Zhuangzi, to deny serving any ruler at any time. Zhuangzi, Laozi’s most famous follower in traditional accounts, had a great deal of influence on Chinese literati and culture.

Political theorists influenced by Laozi have advocated humility in leadership and a restrained approach to statecraft, either for ethical and pacifist reasons, or for tactical ends. In a different context, various anti-authoritarian movements have embraced the Laozi teachings on the power of the weak.[36]

The right-libertarian economist Murray Rothbard suggested that Laozi was the first libertarian,[37] likening Laozi’s ideas on government to F.A. Hayek‘s theory of spontaneous order.[38] James A. Dorn agreed, writing that Laozi, like many 18th century liberals, “argued that minimizing the role of government and letting individuals develop spontaneously would best achieve social and economic harmony.”[39] Similarly, the Cato Institute‘s David Boaz includes passages from the Daodejing in his 1997 book The Libertarian Reader.[40] Philosopher Roderick Long, however, argues that libertarian themes in Taoist thought are actually borrowed from earlier Confucian writers.[41]

Left-libertarians have been highly influenced by Laozi as well. In his 1937 book Nationalism and Culture, the anarcho-syndicalist writer and activist Rudolf Rocker praised Laozi’s “gentle wisdom” and understanding of the opposition between political power and the cultural activities of the people and community.[42] In his 1910 article for the Encyclopedia Britannica, Peter Kropotkin also noted that Laozi was among the earliest exponents of essentially anarchist concepts.[43] More recently, anarchists such as John P. Clark and Ursula K. Le Guin have written about the conjunction between anarchism and Taoism in various ways, highlighting the teachings of Laozi in particular.[44] In her translation of the Tao Te Ching, Le Guin writes that Laozi “does not see political power as magic. He sees rightful power as earned and wrongful power as usurped… He sees sacrifice of self or others as a corruption of power, and power as available to anyone who follows the Way. No wonder anarchists and Taoists make good friends.”[45]



 (bahasa Tionghoa: 文殊 Wénshū atau 文殊師利菩薩 Wénshūshili Púsà ); Jepang: Monju; Tibet: Jampelyang; Nepal: मंजुश्री Manjushree) adalah seorang Bodhisattva (individu yang tercerahkan) dalam tradisi Agama Buddha Mahayana dan Vajrayana. Manjusri adalah seorang bodhisattva yang dikaitkan dengan kebijaksanaan, pengajaran dan kesadaran dan dalam tradisi Vajrayana merupakan dewa meditasi (yidam), yang menggambarkan kebijaksanaan yang tercerahkan. Menurut sejarah, kitab suci Mahayana menjelaskan bahwa Manjusri adalah seorang pengikut Buddha Gautama, walaupun ia tidak disebutkan dalam kitab suci Pali.

Istilah Sanskerta akan Mañjuśrī dapat diartikan sebagai “Kemuliaan Baik Hati” (Gentle Glory)[1]. Mañjuśrī juga dikenal dengan nama Sanskerta yang lebih lengkap yakni Mañjuśrī-kumāra-bhūta.[2]

Tradisi agama Buddha[sunting]

Rupang Manjusri (Monju) di Senkoji di Onomichi, Jepang.

Para ahli mengidentifikasikan Manjusri sebagai “Bodhisattva mistis dalam tradisi Mahayana yang tertua dan paling signifikan.”[3] Manjusri pertama kali disebut pada awal tradisi kitab-kitab Mahayana seperti Prajnaparamita Sutta dan melalui masa awal tradisi inilah ia menjadi simbol perwujudan dari prajñā (kebijaksanaan).[4] Manjusuri digambarkan kemudian dalam banyak teks yang berhubungan dengan Tantric seperti Mañjuśrī-mūla-kalpa.[5] dan Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti.

Bersama-sama dengan sang Buddha dan pengikutnya Samantabhadra, ia membentuk trinitas Shakyamuni (Jepang: Sanzon Shaka). Dalam Buddhisme Tibet, ia juga seringkali digambarkan dalam trinitas dengan Avalokiteshvara dan Vajrapani.

Manjusri diceritakan dalam sejumlah Sutra Mahayana, khususnya Prajnaparamita Sutra. Sutra Teratai memberikan sebuah surga kepadanya yang bernama Vimala, yang menurut Avatamsaka Sutra berada di timur. Menurut beberapa tradisi Vajrayana, Saraswati adalah istrinya. Ia juga kadang-kadang dipanggil Manjughosha.

Patung perak Manjusri dari Ngemplak Semongan.

Chinese Monkey  Symbol

Monkeys have extremely charming manners that draw others

Monkeys have extremely charming manners that draw others. Monkeys solve difficult problems with ease.They are quick-witted,innovative, and they have total and intense belief in themselves.

No one delights in their own accomplishments like the Monkeys. Enjoying themselves immensely, they try anything at least once! Monkeys are intellectual and their memory is phenomenal.

They recall the smallest details of everything they have seen,read, and heard. They must depend on that memory since they have an otherwise untidy mind. Monkeys are wizards with money.

They are original, shrewd, and when they need to, they can fool anyone.There are a hundred and one fantastic schemes they want to try, and you can bet they make some of them work. Even when they take you in, it is hard to be angry with them, or begrudge them anything.

They don’t care what opinions others have of them. They know they are lucky, and they also know they have the ability to change things when convenience calls.

Monkeys are virtually unsinkable! When the odds are stacked against them, Monkeys know when to quit. Their timing is superb, and they will wait to try another time. If you try to trick Monkeys, they will probably catch you. They never make a move without a plan. They are great strategists. They can spot an opportunity in any form. They never miss a trick

The complete info read at the Monkey Zodiac motif at the Discuss chapter

Chinese Musical Instrumen

 Driwan found Gambang music instrumen with dragob chillin and pat kua painted,look the more new cambang with out picture panited below


Na Cha

La Cha (or Na Cha) being the third prince of Lei Cheng (deity holding a pagoda) was born with special powerful fighting skills at a tender age and was made a warrior at the age of 7.


 His strong presence among the chinese community is due to his popular epic.

His most popular weapon is his magic rings he use to fly on sky and fight his opponents away.

 He always take the lead on any war against evil, with his entourage sent down by heaven. His presence will scare off all evill spirits on earth. In feng shui, the La Cha is normally invited into homes to usher in happiness, increase descendants luck, protection of the kids from sickness/danger, preventing child bully and grooming obedience in children.

When the kids are well taken care of by the guardian angel and give less problems to the parents, the latter can focus better on their work in the office


OX(Water Buffalo)



Ox people are hard-working and persistent, they can stick at a task longer and go at it harder than anybody. They believe in themselves and tend to classify almost everything into two basic categories, bad and good. They hold up their high standards as a model and severely judge those who don’t aspire to maintain these same ideals.

Ox people are not social or party animals, they tend to be quiet when in a party. Although appears to be tranquil, in fact, Oxens are ponderous but impulsive when angry. They are capable of fearsome rages, therefore, it is better not to cross an Oxen.

Ox people are observant, they have remarkable memories and are good at reporting on absolutely everything they observe. Go ask an Oxen if he remembers who were at the party 8 months ago, most likely, he will name them one by one to you.

In the home, the Ox is a great guy to have around. In business, the OX can succeed in the arts, a contracting business, or an estate., thanks to their creative nature. And since an Ox is intelligent and good at his hands, he can be a good surgeon as well.

Ox people are stubborn and dogmatic, they believe in their decision and will never regret. They are also very close to their families. disappointedly, Oxens often find that those who are close to them fail to understand them. Nevertheless, they are patient, and caring and that makes the Oxen the best friend you can ever have.

Chinese Phoenix

Fenghuang are mythological birds of East Asia that reign over all other birds. The males are called Feng and the females Huang. In modern times, however, such a distinction of gender is often no longer made and the Feng and Huang are blurred into a single feminine entity so that the bird can be paired with the Chinese dragon, which has male connotations.

 Chinese phoenix - auspicious bird rising from ashes

Appearance: six celestial bodies

A common depiction was of it attacking snakes with its talons and its wings spread. According to scripture Erya – chapter 17 Shiniao, Fenghuang is said to be made up of the beak of a rooster, the face of a swallow, the forehead of a fowl, the neck of a snake, the breast of a goose, the back of a tortoise, the hindquarters of a stag and the tail of a fish. Today, however, it is often described as a composite of many birds including the head of a golden pheasant, the body of a mandarin duck, the tail of a peacock, the legs of a crane, the mouth of a parrot, and the wings of a swallow.

Its body symbolizes the six celestial bodies. The head is the sky, the eyes are the sun, the back is the moon, the wings are the wind, the feet are the earth, and the tail are the planets. Its feathers contain the five fundamental colors: black, white, red, blue and yellow. It is also sometimes depicted as having three legs.

Origin: good-luck totem

A vase with a phoenix-headed spout, gray sandstone with celadon coating, Song Dynasty, last half of 10th century. Images of an ancient bird have appeared in China for over 4,000 years, the earliest as Shang Dynasty pottery motifs, then appearing decorating bronzes, as well as jade figurines (many of the most beautiful from the Liao Period). Some believe they may have been a good-luck totem, believing that it is a totem of eastern tribes in ancient China. Current theories suggest that it is likely based in part – for example the snake-like neck – on folk memory of the Asian Ostrich which was common in prehistoric China but became extinct several thousand years ago. That this bird was well-known to the early modern humans in Asia, noted for its peculiarity, and hunted for food, is attested by numerous archaeological finds, such as pottery decorated with what appear to be painted ostriches, and bones by early campsites.

 Chinese phoenix - auspicious bird rising from ashes 

Fenghuang seems to have no connection with the phoenix of the Western world, which derives from Egyptian mythology. Peculiarly, the Egyptian phoenix may also in part reference a prehistoric bird, the Bennu Heron. Unlike the Fenghuang, which is a chimera not very much like any one extant bird, the Egyptian phoenix is most often considered similar to a heron or eagle.

During the Han Dynasty (2,200 years ago) two phoenixes, one a male (feng, 鳳) and the other a female (huang, 凰) were often shown together facing one other. Later, during the Yuan Dynasty the two terms were merged to become the generally translated “phoenix”, but the “King of Birds” came to symbolize the Empress when paired with a dragon as a dragon represented the Emperor. From the period of the Emperor Jiajing (1522-66) on, a pair of phoenixes was differentiated by the tail feathers of the two birds (typically together forming a closed circle pattern–the male identified by five serrated tail feathers (five being an odd, or yang number) and the female by what appears to be one, but is in fact, two (two being an even, or yin number) curling or tendriled tail feathers. It was also in the Ming Dynasty that phoenixes first began to appear with combs, hence comb-less phoenixes are pre-Ming, and phoenixes depicted with combs, Ming or post-Ming.

Also during this period, the feng huang was used as a symbol representing the direction south. This was portrayed through a male and female facing each other. Their feathers were of the five fundamental colors: black, white, red, green, and yellow. These colors are said to represent the Confucian virtues of: loyalty, honesty, decorum, and justice.

Meaning: high virtue and grace

The Fenghuang has very positive connotations. It is a symbol of high virtue and grace. The Fenghuang also symbolizes the union of yin and yang. Shan Hai Jing – chapter 1 Nanshan jing records each part of Fenghuang’s body symbolizes a word, the head represents virtue (德,) the wing represents duty (義,) the back represents propriety (禮,) the abdomen says belief (信) and the chest represents mercy (仁.)

 Chinese phoenix - auspicious bird rising from ashes

In ancient China, they can often be found in the decorations for weddings or royalty, along with dragons. This is because the Chinese considered the dragon and phoenix symbolic of blissful relations between husband and wife, another common yin and yang metaphor

Plant Of Long Life

 The  Sacred Fungus Of Immotarlity

 2010942 Symbol mark: Sacred Fungus, the symbol of longevity, immortality, in a double circle, underglaze blue.

Symbol mark: Sacred Fungus, the symbol of longevity, immortality, in a double circle, underglaze blue

Teksing porcelains

Late Qing Sacred Fungus motif Bowl found at sintang West Borneo and Padang west sumatra

The Drinking and Chinese Tea Bowl

Tea Drinking and Ceramic Tea Bowls
An overview through dynastic history

Li Baoping 李宝平
Department of Archaeology
The University of Sydney

Fig.1 Tenth-century (Five dynasties) green ware bowl and stand carved with lotus petals 青釉刻花托碗, unearthed at the Huqiu Pagoda in Suzhou 蘇州虎丘塔, Jiangsu. (Source: Suzhou Municipal Museum)

Tea vessels are an indispensable part of tea culture. As the people who invented porcelain, it is hardly surprising that over the ages the Chinese have used chinaware as the primary vessel for drinking tea. Ceramic tea bowls are mentioned in the first major text on tea, The Classic of Tea 茶經. Compiled between 758-60CE by Lu Yu 陸羽 (733–804) of the Tang dynasty, this work had a profound effect on the diffusion of the tea-drinking. Lu Yu lists and ranks tea bowls made in kilns in six prefectures, and the celadon bowls made in Yuezhou 越州, Zhejiang. Called Yue ware 越窑 these are considered to be the most suitable for tea drinking.[Fig.1]

In The Classic of Tea Lu Yu also disagreed with those who regarded the famous Xing ware 邢窑—the white porcelain from Xingzhou in Hebei, as being superior to Yue celadon. He gave three reasons: first, while the Xing white porcelain looks like silver, Yue greenware is like jade; secondly, while Xing ware was like snow, Yue ware was like ice; and, thirdly, while Xing ware was white and made tea appear reddish, Yue ware was celadon and made tea appear green. Or, as he wrote:


Fig.2 Jian ware tea bowl with hare’s fur markings 建窯兔毫盞, unearthed from a tomb of 1205 in Zhangshu, Jiangxi. (Source: Zhangshu Municipal Museum)

It can be most probably surmised that greenware 青瓷 was the favoured ceramic type for drinking tea in the Tang. The popularity of green coloured ceramics used for tea bowls is also supported by evidence from the greenware kilns of Changsha, Hunan 湖南長沙. The Changsha kilns are not among the seven producers listed by Lu Yu, nonetheless it must have been a significant supplier of tea bowls, something evident from the fact that a bowl was unearthed at the Changsha kiln site which, prior to firing, had written on it: tu wan 荼埦, ‘bitter-tea bowl’. More interesting yet are finds from the Belitung shipwreck 黑石號沉船. This Arab merchant vessel set sail from a Chinese port and was probably destined for the Middle East, but sank in Indonesia waters in the early ninth century, something indicated by a ceramic bowl incised with a Chinese reign date corresponding with the year 826CE. The wreck contained a significant cargo of Chinese ceramics. These include numerous Changsha ware bowls of identical shape but diverse decoration, and a small number of Yue greenwares, Xing white porcelain, as well as wares with other origins. One of the Changsha bowls was also inscribed, before firing, with the words cha zhanzi 茶盞子, another term for tea bowl.[1] This is somewhat surprising since the bowl was most probably not intended for tea drinking in the Middle East, and the Chinese words would have meant little to a foreign user. It is hoped that further study of this tea bowl and other ceramics from Belitung will provide new insights into the production and management of Chinese ceramics in the Tang.

Contrasted with the Tang period, the Song dynasty saw the prevalence of blackware tea bowls, though other ceramic types were also used. This has a lot to do with the contemporary custom of ‘tea contending’ 鬥茶. While the primary tea-brewing technique during the Tang was to grind tea cakes into powder and then boil the resultant powder in a pot before ladling it into a tea bowl for drinking, the tea contending of the Song feature a whipped-tea method. This consisted of the grinding of the tea cake (usually an expensive or luxurious item) into fine powder, placing the powder in a bowl, pouring boiling water into the bowl from a ewer (usually also made from ceramic), and whipping the mixture with a whisk. The ‘tea contending’ partly consisted of comparison of the colour of the resulting tea. The whiter the froth of the whipped-tea the better, and not surprisingly blackware bowls were obviously well suited to this purpose. Tea contending prevailed in Song society, from the royal court to commoners, and its popularity lead to the intensive manufacturing and appreciation of blackware bowls across the empire.

Fig.3 Jizhou ware tea bowl with paper cut design encircling popular contemporary auspicious marks of May the Hall be Filled with Gold and Jade 金玉满堂, Longevity with Wealth and Nobility 長命富貴, Happiness, Longevity, Health and Peace 福壽康寧. Unearthed at the site of the Jizhou kiln. (Source: Jiangxi Provincial Museum)

A noteworthy feature of Song blackware tea bowls is that the black glaze is often decorated and fired with special markings that resemble hare’s fur 兔毫盞, tortoiseshell 玳瑁盞, partridge feathers 鷓鴣斑, oil drops 油滴, or the like. And such effects were frequently praised in poems and other works of the Song and later periods by famous scholar-bureaucrats such as Su Dongpo 蘇東坡 (1037-1101). Even the Song emperor Huizong 宋徽宗 (1082-1135) declared that black was valued for tea bowls and those with hare’s fur markings were the most superior. The most influential producer of blackware tea bowls were the Jian kilns in Jianyang 建陽, Fujian.[Fig.2] Some Jian ware bowls were inscribed before firing with the words ‘imperial tribute’ 供御, indicating these specific bowls were made for the use of the court. Blackware tea bowls from China were also cherished in Japan from Song times, and tea contending too was introduced to Japan. Blackware ceramic bowls entered Japan via diverse routes. For example, among ceramics from the Yuan dynasty Shin’an wreck 新安沉船 a few Jian ware bowls were found. This merchant ship probably set sail from Ningbo, Zhejiang, and was destined for Japan, but it sank in Korean waters after a short stop-over (as indicated by the presence of a few Korea celadon wares in the wreck). A few wood tabs bearing a Yuan reign date of 1323 imply the era of the ship’s loss.[2]

Diplomacy was another channel by which Chinese blackware ceramics entered Japan. In 1406, the early Ming emperor Yongle bestowed ten Song-era Jian ware bowls on Ashikaga Yoshimitsu (足利義満, 1358-1408), the third shogun of the Ashikaga shogunate who ruled from 1368 to 1394 during the Muromachi period. The many Japanese monks who travelled to practice at monasteries in China also brought chinaware back to Japan. As a matter of fact, blackware bowls are given the generic name of tenmoku 天目 by tea masters in Japan, as it is believed that Japanese monks brought back Jian ware bowls from the Tianmu Shan 天目山 mountain in Zhejiang after studying Chan/Zen Buddhism at the local monasteries.[3]

Fig.4 Jizhou ware tea bowl with leaf pattern, unearthed from a tomb dating from 1206 in Shangrao, Jiangxi 江西上饒. (Source: Shangrao Municipal Museum)

Apart from the Jian kilns, Jizhou 吉州 in Jiangxi was another most famous producer of blackware tea bowls during the Song-Yuan period.[Figs 3&4] During the latest symposium on blackwares from Jizhou and other kilns and two accompanying blackware exhibitions held by the Shenzhen Museum in February 2012, much discussion was devoted to the interaction between blackware, tea cultures and Chan/Zen Buddhism.[4] The Shenzhen exhibitions and symposium were a breakthrough in research of Chinese blackwares that built on the exhibition in 1996 of similar ceramics organized by the Sackler Museum of Harvard University. Titled ‘Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feather: Chinese Brown- and Black-glazed Ceramics, 400-1400’, that exhibition proved to be foundational for study of blackware tea bowls.[5] The reason that this exhibition included only blackwares dating from before the year 1400 is again related to tea, since another major change occurred in tea brewing techniques at this time. In 1391, Zhu Yuanzhang 朱元璋, the founding emperor of the Ming dynasty banned the production of expensive tea cakes and only loose tea leaves were henceforth allowed to be sold. Thus, in the Ming tea was brewed by pouring boiling water over leaves placed in a vessel. The emergence of what is known as the steeping method of tea making lead to the decline of blackware tea bowls that had only enjoyed an advantage when tea contending was based on the use and grinding of tea cakes. Subsequently we see the rise of the use of tea-pot in the Ming-Qing era, particularly the zisha 紫砂 or purple clay-ware tea pots from Yixing 宜興, Jiangsu, and porcelain from Jingdezhen 景德镇, Jiangxi.[6][7]

Fig.5 Batavian ware cup and saucer, featuring brown glaze outside and underglaze painting inside. From the Ca Mau shipwreck of 1723-1735 found in Vietnamese waters. (Source: Zelnik Collection, Hungary)

During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Jingdezhen became the porcelain capital of China; it also exported its products worldwide. Consequently cups from Jingdezhen were widely used for drinking tea, both home and abroad. So-called ‘Batavian ware’ might exemplify the wide use of tea cups from Jingdezhen. This type of porcelain features brown glaze and is usually decorated with underglaze blue or overglaze coloured enamels.[Fig.5] It is now often called ‘Batavian ware’ after the Dutch East India Company port of Batavia (now Jakarta) in Java, from where these wares were transshipped in vast quantities to Europe.[8] Batavian ware was fashionable in Europe, particularly during the eighteenth century. They were much favoured in Holland and Sweden, and were also exported to America. Batavian ware was also depicted in numerous European art works. Examples include Jan Josef Horemans the Elder’s (1682-1759) ‘Tea Party in a Netherlandish Garden: Springtime’.[9][Fig.6] Numerous Europe museums have collections of Batavian wares, including the Zwinger Palace in Dresden that hold the porcelain collection of Augustus the Strong (1670-1733), Elector of Saxony and King of Poland. It is also found in large quantities in shipwrecks around the world.[10][11].

Fig.6 Tea Party in a Netherlandish Garden: Springtime, Jan Josef Horemans the Elder’s (1682-1759), Sheaf C.–Kilburn R. 1988, plate 149.

While the tea vessels cited hitherto are all from famous ceramic centres and it is no surprising to enjoy a high status with their users, a ceramic jar widely revered as an icon of Japanese tea culture is different in this regard. It was purchased by the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art at an auction held by Christie’s in New York City. The jar, made in China during the late Southern Song or Yuan dynasty (thirteenth or fourteenth century) and shipped to Japan as a humble container for a commercial product, developed a distinguished pedigree in the hands of influential tea connoisseurs, collectors and rulers who used it for storing precious tea and displayed it in their tearooms between the fifteenth and twentieth centuries.[12] It was probably manufactured in the coastal provinces of Fujian or Guangdong, but the exact origin remains to be identified. How a humble ceramic jar from China became an icon of Japanese tea culture is a question that deserves more research, including its place of origin in China. In summary, ceramic tea vessels are closely associated with tea-brewing techniques of different historical periods in China and contain a great wealth of information related to their manufacturers, distributors and users in China and associated countries. Interpreting the ceramics universally represented at worldwide archaeological sites and museum collections will allow us to gain much insight into past human societies. In view of the great deal of research done on tea from China’s history,[13] research dedicated to tea vessels is particularly valuable.[14]


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