From 1990 through 2002, Vietnam had excavated 5 shipwrecks dated back 15th - 18th century, including:
- Hòn Cau vessel (Bà Rịa Vũng Tàu): excavated in 1990-1992
- Kien Giang vessel: excavated in 1991
- Cù Lao Chàm vessel (Quảng Nam): 1997-1999
- Cà Mau vessel: 1998-1999
- Bình Thuận vessel: 2001-2002
There have been some writings about such above shipwrecks. In this case, I want to focus on the ceramics and porcelain wares found in those shipwrecks only.
1. Vietnamese ceramics and porcelains
In 1997-2000, the Cu Lao Cham shipwreck was excavated in Quang Nam province. 4.362 objects excavated were sent to Vietnam National Museum of History. Many of which are unique-version objects.
Big size plate, cobalt blue pattern, 15th century
Plate, cobalt blue pattern, 15th century
Kendy with lid, cobalt blue pattern, 15th century
Vase, cobalt blue pattern, 15th century
Vase in big size, 15th century
Yuhuchun, brown glaze (Champa ceramic), 15th century
2. Chinese porcelain
It found in Cu Lao Cham, Hon Cau, Binh Thuan and Ca Mau shipwrecks the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1912) Chinese porcelains. Ming’s porcelains mostly found in Cu Lao Cham and Binh Thuan while Qing’s mostly found in Hon Cau and Ca Mau vessels.
2.1. Ming’s porcelains
a. In Cu Lao Cham vessel
Celadon ceramics include plates and ewers. It has the characteristics of Ming ceramics and come from the South of China.
Celadon plate, 15th century
Plate and bowl, cobalt blue pattern ceramic, 15th century
b. In Binh Thuan vessel
Statistically, there were about 60.000 ceramic objects found in Binh Thuan vessel. They are multi-color, white, gray, cobalt, brown and green glazed wares.
Plate, cobalt, 16th - 17th century
Cobalt bowl, 16th - 17th century
Vessel, multi-color glazed porcelain, 16th - 17th century
- The porcelain wares include bowls, vessels, cups and plates. The multi-color plates have popular patterns such as the phoenix and floral. The cobalt porcelains include bowls, vessels, cups, vases that said to be from Fujian. The cobalt porcelain bowls have 9 types and 15 models. The plates have 13 types and mostly are in flared mouth and curved shape.
The brown and green glazed ceramics include pots, urns, vases and boxes. Most are Swatow wares, (Guangdong).
- The subject for the decorative patterns in those ceramics and porcelains are various from human decoration, animals, floral, through Han characters. Some round plates in 26.5cm diameter have pattern of riding horse or kungfu persons. The animals can be lion, dragon, horse and deer. The floral can be lotus, orchids, daisy, hibiscus and peony. The Han characters denoted Chinese traditional religion or referred to the concept of Happiness (Fu), Prosperity (Lu), and Longevity (Shou) ect…
From such understandings about Binh Thuan vessel’s ceramics, we can say that there was an exportation of Ming ceramics from China to South East Asian countries. Moreover, there is a similarity between ceramics in Binh Thuan shipwreck and Witte Leew shipwreck’s (1613) and that implicating a fact that the Binh Thuan vessel could be serve for a shipment from China to South East Asia, and for a Dutch company.
Dr. Nguyen Dinh Chien - Deputy Director
English: Tran Trang