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HOME : Asian Art : Miscellaneous : Hoi An Style Ceramic
Hoi An Style Ceramic - JL.008
Origin: Vietnam
Circa: 1530 BC to 1600 BC
Dimensions: 14" (35.6cm) high x 14" (35.6cm) wide x 2" (5.1cm) depth
Medium: Ceramic

Location: Great Britain
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During the 15th century, off the Hoi An coast of Vietnam in the South China Sea, a trading vessel filled with porcelain vanished without a trace. Five hundred years later, in 1999 divers excavating a fifteenth-century shipwreck off the Hoi An coast of Vietnam in 1999, they'd made history. The collection of porcelain rescued from seventy meters below sea level was unprecedented.

Of the ship's eighteen holds filled with ceramics, four were completely excavated. Altogether 244,000 artefacts were retrieved, with a miraculous 150,000 of these pieces still intact. Included in the cache brought to the surface were hundreds of ceramic objects, such as jars shaped like phoenixes and boxes adorned with pagodas, presumably intended for everyday use by elite members of society in countries throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East. There were also many individual pieces in the cargo of high-fired stoneware.

Scholars of the subject are quick to agree on the origins of the pottery. "We know for sure that it came from Chu Dau or a town in its near vicinity," says Mensun Bound, head of the Oxford University marine archaeology department that oversaw the excavation of the shipwreck. "What's amazing is that it wasn't coming out of China's Ming Dynasty, but from peasant villages in the Red River Delta.” Upon excavation a selection of pieces were retained by national institutions in Vietnam whilst the majority were sold at auction.

This large and fully intact piece bares all the hallmarks of a 15th century H?i An item. It has exquisite hand drawn blue decoration on the interior which features anthropomorphised fish amongst flowers and filigree. The exterior of the piece is decorated with similarly refined line work. Whilst H?i An items are somewhat common it is rare to receive a piece of this quality, dimension and detail.
- (JL.008)


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