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Binh Thuan wreck (c. 1608)

The Binh Thuan Wreck was found by fishermen in 40 meters of water 40 miles off the coast of Binh Thuan Province in southern Vietnam. The wreck was excavated in 2002-2003.

The Binh Thuan Wreck has been positively identified as a Chinese junk, one of only a handful found in Southeast Asia, 24 m long, 7 m wide, and divided into 25 narrow compartments by transverse bulkheads. Archival evidence points to the junk of the unfortunate merchant, I Sin Ho, who was transporting a cargo of silk and Chinese goods from China to to trade with the Dutch who had set up a base in Johor, when his ship sank off the south of Vietnam in 1608.

What was left of the cargo was cast-iron pans and Zhangzhou (Swatow) porcelain. The porcelain cargo comprised roughly of an equal number of underglaze blue-and-white wares and, wares with overglaze enamel decorations alone or in combination with underglaze blue. There were also finer blue-and-white ceramics in a variety of shapes from other kilns. Non-ceramic artefacts included items typical of a Chinese junk including locks, scales, chopsticks and copper alloy bowls and dishes.

After that the Vietnamese Government had selected a representative part of the cargo for study and museum display the remainder was sold by Christie's Australia in Melbourne in March 2004 which brought a total of A$2 million. A large part of the proceeds will be used for the construction of a museum in Binh Thuan Province.

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