AGE: – Circa 1320 AD – 1460 AD
CONSTRUCTION: – stoneware
DESCRIPTION: – Nanhai Ship Wreck Sawankhalok Green Celedon Bowl
HEIGHT: – 7cm
BASE DIAMETER: – 9cm
WEIGHT: – 1kg
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Nanhai Ship Wreck Sawankhalok Green Celedon Bowl with lotus petal pattern decorating the outside. The glaze has deteriorated due to the lengthy time it has been in the ocean, otherwise in good condition. The wreck of the Royal Nanhai was discovered off the Coast of Malaysia in the South China Sea in 1992. According to radiocarbon dating there is a 95 percent assumption that the ships age is estimated to be between 1320 – 1460.
The cargo of the Royal Nanhai contained more than 21,000 ceramics/stonewares, mostly Sawankhalok celadon wares from Thailand and brown wares from China bound for Indonesia and possibly other parts of South East Asian. Also found on the Nanhai wreck were four blue and white ceramics from Vietnam and China found under floorboards of the vessel. Tin and iron was also part of the cargo.
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Celedon wares such as these are referred to as stoneware rather than ceramics and were produced in kilns in the villages of Ban Ko Noi and Ban Pa Yang along the Yom River north of the city of Si Satchanalai in Sukothai province, Thailand.
Archaeologist Don Hein’s research has characterized the development of the Sawankjalok kiln complex in Thailand into four main phases.
MON – In ground kilns which lasted for approximately 100 years from 13th to 14th century.
Mon associated stoneware’s – fired in Mon in ground kilns in the Sawankhalok kiln site which lasted for only very short period.
Transitional Stone wares – surface kilns.
Later stone wares – produced from the 15th century and came to and end towards the end of the 16th century.
In Those early times there were hundreds of vessels that sunk in the South China Sea, in bad weather the seas were turbulent and prone to cyclonic activity which made it an extremely dangerous passage from China and into China.
A personal story: In 1985 whilst living on the Island of Hainan in Southern China we visited a beach, on the shoreline there were thousands of broken shards of pottery and ceramics exposed by the outgoing tide spanning a hundred metres with a depth of three metres. At this juncture in our lives we were totally oblivious of the historical facts related to the vessels that circumvented the seas loaded with ceramics for export and import during these early times.
I did however find one whole bowl buried in the sand, although not valuable it inspired me to learn more about this period of time and the risks taken to export these beautiful pieces via the turbulent and often dangerous South China Sea.