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Peter Lam on Kitchen Ch’ing Porcelain – The William Willetts Lecture 2023

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SEACS members and their guests attended this long-awaited talk by ceramics expert Peter Lam on 'Kitchen Ch'ing porcelain made in Hong Kong'. Professor Lam introduced the 'Kitchen Ch'ing' blue and white kiln site in Tai Po, New Territories, Hong Kong focusing on its dating, type-forms and context comparing it to similar items found from SEA shipwrecks and sites that were familiar to many SEACS members, and providing references for newcomers to the topic of 'Kitchen Ch'ing' ceramics.

Ceramic Assemblages from SEA Shipwrecks

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Our speaker, Khun Atthasit Sukkham of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University, focused on a trade time period that merits more attention: the last half of the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Based on his and Clifford Pereira and Asyaari Muhamad's research, we looked at six shipwrecks found in Southeast Asia in this time period, which had ceramic assemblages: the Samed Ngam, Diana, Tek Sing, Desaru, Francis-Garnier (Man Nok or Ruea Mail) and Tha Krai. By analysing the origins, typologies, dates, functions and selections of these ships’ ceramics, it was clear that the Chinese-made armorial, Chinese-made bencharong and European ceramics offer diagnostic evidence of post-peak ceramic trading patterns. These ceramics were products for sale, remains of earlier ceramic shipments or utensils for on-board living. This body of evidence is comparable with that of terrestrial archaeological sites that suggest other cultural influences among the more recent maritime ceramic trade in Southeast Asia. SEACS members can watch a video of this talk on our Membership Premium Video page.

Historical Shipwrecks in Singapore Waters: An Intimate Glance at their Ceramic Cargoes

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Dr. Michael Flecker was SEACS' 23rd William Willetts Lecture speaker following the Society's 53rd AGM on 26 March 2022. His topic as the marine archaeologist who oversaw the many years' work on both ships (the Temasek and the Shah Muncher) was "Historical Shipwrecks in Singapore Waters". Remarkably, the first ancient shipwreck ever found in Singapore waters is contemporary with 14th century Temasek, and currently assumes this name. An excavation carried out in stages over four years resulted in the recovery of approximately 4.4 tonnes of ceramic shards and a handful of very significant intact pieces. The Temasek Wreck carried more Yuan dynasty blue-and-white porcelain than any other documented shipwreck in the world, along with Longquan celadons, shufu-ware and moulded qingbai-ware from Jingdezhen, cruder qingbai-ware from Fujian kilns, and brown-ware probably from Cizao (a town in Quanzhou). From the location of the site, the many parallel finds from Singapore terrestrial sites, and importantly a common dearth of large blue-and-white plates, the ancient port of Singapore, or Temasek, was the most likely destination. The second shipwreck has been identified as the Shah Muncher, an Indian-built, European-design Country Ship voyaging from Canton to Bombay. On 8th January 1796, she was forced upon the rocks of Pedra Branca by the current. Approximately 5 tonnes of Chinese ceramics were recovered, including an astounding variety of intact pieces. The Shah Muncher sank twenty-three years before Raffles re-established the port of Singapore. Nonetheless, her cargo provides insights into the types of goods that would have been purchased by Singapore’s fledgling community along with those that would have been transhipped at the new port. SEACS members can watch a video of this talk on our Membership Premium Video page.

MEMBERS ONLY: Our 53rd AGM for fy2021

Our 53rd GM will be held on Saturday afternoon, 26 March from 3:00 to 5:00 pm via ZOOM. According to our Constitution, members were given two (2) weeks' notice in writing of the Annual General Meeting, including the date, time and venue of the meeting, and the agenda of the meeting. Details were sent all members by e-mail.

Exciting New Ceramic Linkages between Angkor and China

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Dr. Sharon Wong reported on the possible technological transfer of ceramic production between Angkor and China during the 9th to 14th centuries looking at two distinctive ceramic products: covered boxes and roof tiles. Could the study of these ceramics provide a new placing of Angkor and the port cities of China, such as Guangzhou and Quanzhou, into the interregional networks of maritime Asia? SEACS members can watch a video of this talk on our Membership Premium Video page.

Champa Ceramics

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Champa (present-day central Vietnam) was once described as a maritime kingdom with a thriving trade in which ceramics became a significant commodity. Our speaker explained in words and pictures how the study of Champa ceramics enables us to gain a better understanding and awareness of Champa’s domestic economic network as well as its international trade relations. SEACS members can watch a video of this talk on our Membership Premium Video page.

Surprising Ceramic finds emerge from the Musi River

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The distribution of ancient Chinese ceramics made for export to other parts of Asia, the Middle East and as far as Europe, principally via the sea route through Southeast Asia, reveal many interesting facets. Large quantities of early Chinese ceramics from the Tang (618-907 CE), Song (960-1279 CE) and Yuan (1279-1368 CE) periods have been recovered from the Musi River to the surprise of many! SEACS members can watch a video of this talk on our Membership Premium Video page.

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