San Diego Shipwreck


The Spaniards arrived in Philippines via America in 1521.  Using Manila as a transhipment point, goods from China, India and Southeast Asia were assembled and loaded on the galleons which made regular voyages to Acapulco in Mexico, another Colony of Spain.  The Spaniards paid for the goods and taxes with silver from Mexico and Peru. The peak period of trade was between late 16th century to mid 17th century. 

On December 14th, 1600 A.D, San Diego, which was a spanish warship converted from trading vessel San Antonio, sank near the Fortune island in Batangas province in the Philippines, while engaged by the Dutch warship Mauritius.


In 1992, the wreck was salvaged by french underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio.  About 34,000 artifacts were recovered from the shipwreck, including Chinese porcelain,  Portuguese cannon and Mexican coin.

The San Diego exhibition is now permanently displayed at the National Museum of the Filipino People.

The Ming Wanli period porcelain consisted of mainly Jingdezhen-made kraak style blue and white porcelain intended for export to European market.  Kraak style which is based on European design specification is generally held to have been introduced around 1580s.  It is characterised by motifs organised within panels. Some examples are shown below.



Kraak style blue and white wares

Interesting European vessel forms were also manufactured to meet the aesthetic and functional requirement of European customers.  The decoration however retained a relatively more "Chinese taste" and similar to those found in the Chinese domestic market.  Some examples are shown below:

Non-Chinese vessel form but with Chinese taste motif

There is also a small quantity of blue and white wares which are clearly similar to that for the Chinese domestic market.


Not surprisingly, there was also a small quantity of Swatow (Zhangzhou) blue and white wares.  Zhangzhou emerged as a serious competitor of Jingdezhen by targetting the lower end consumer market.  Compared with the Jingdezhen counterpart, it is more thickly potted and with characteristics sand adhesion on the outer base. 

Swatow Kraak style blue and white plate

Swatow dish with duck motif

Swatow Gu vase with floral motif 

Swatow bowl with heron in lotus pond motif

Swatow jarlet with floral scrolls