Some thoughts regarding the Indonesian shipwrecks celadon wares from Fujian


In the early 2000s, large amount of celadon wares were salvaged from at least two shipwrecks in the Indonesian water by fishermen and other unidentified salvagers.   Much confusion and contradictory information were circulated, some claiming that those were genuine shipwreck stuff while others suspected that those were modern copies submerged in the the sea to hoodwink the prospective buyers.  The main cause of the problem was that few were able to identify the kilns which the celadon wares were from.   For some who were familiar with ancient export wares, they speculated that the items were from the Fujian or Guangdong region. 

Since the Tang Dynasty, a prosperous maritime trade had flourished between China and Southeast Asia. Quanzhou in Fujian  was the main port of export for  majority of the ceramics found in the Southeast Asia region.  To meet the ever-increasing overseas demand, since the Song Dynasty many kilns sprouted along the coastal region  of Fujian to produce the ceramics for export.   Those kiln sites such as those in Lianjiang, Fuqing, Putian, Anxi , Quanzhou,  Anxi and Tongan were blessed with bountiful supply of raw materials for ceramics production and ease of transport by rivers and/or along the coastal sea to reach Quanzhou. 


In recent years,  more findings of excavations of Fujian kiln sites  by the Chinese  archeologists have been published and the information has  enabled us to form  a clearer idea of the sort of ceramics that were produced.    

For the celadon wares, it is clear that many of those coastal kilns were producing similar types sharing common features.  Hence, it is difficult to identify the actual kiln of production but we can confidently classified them as products of one of the coastal kilns. 

I have listed below some picture  comparing celadon items  found in the Indonesian shipwrecks and those from the some of the kiln sites.    Those from shipwreck 1 were from Song period and that from shipwreck 2 were from late Song/Early Yuan period. The shipwreck items and kiln shards  bear close resemblance and may be the actual production site or from one of those coastal kiln group producing similar items.  It is very likely that those from the shipwrecks were number of kilns and loaded into the junk in Quanzhou.  Hopefully more information would be available in future to enable use to more accurately  identified the actual kiln of production of a particular piece.  

Items from Shipwreck 1

Items from Shipwreck 2


Items available for sale

Copyright : NK Koh (Oct 07)