Shipwreck Porcelain Cargoes by Roger Bradbury AntiquesRoger Bradbury Antiques
Vung Tau Chinese Shipwreck Fusion Art Rare Vase c1690

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Ceramics: Pre 1900: Item # 1245481

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Vung Tau Chinese Shipwreck Fusion Art Rare Vase c1690
A most interesting small sized blue and white beaker with some of the wrecks ironwork attached. Decorated with four panels of trailing summer flowers issuing from rockwork. As with all of these individual pieces it is stained and cracked. These were thrown out of the main cargo during the ships dramatic sinking and staining often occurred as pieces lay submerged for over 300 years. I tried to buy some of these unique marine sculptures at the Christies sale in 1992 but the prices were very high. This one comes from a private collection in Germany. A lovely piece to acquire. Height: 9.5cm The Vung Tau was discovered in 1989 by a Vietnamese fisherman trawling the sea-bed for shellfish. He was a few miles away from Con Dao Island, which lies roughly 100 nautical miles away south of Vung Tau, when his nets snagged on an obstruction. Con Dao Island was one of the last fresh-water refuelling stops for ships making their way to the north-western islands of Indonesia. Of the thousands of ships that would have stopped here, few of the many that would have been lost through monsoons, piracy or fire, have ever been discovered. The ship lay at 120 feet but visibility was poor and diving was hampered by the seasonal monsoons so that it took 2 years to salvage all of 28000 pieces. The ship was an Asian trading vessel, 110 feet long and 33 feet wide and on examination of the timbers, showed that the vessel had been burned to the water line. There was little to date the wreck apart from a few coins of the reign of the Chinese Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722) and a small Chinese ink stick corresponding to AD 1690. The Vung Tau was probably destined for the major trading centre in Java, the city of Batavia (now Jakarta) which was settled by the Dutch in 1619. The porcelain in this cargo was made within a decade of 1683, which is the year historians regard as the official re-opening of China’s major porcelain kilns, at Jingdezhen after civil war disrupted the industry. Much of the cargo would have likely been bought up by Dutch VOC supercargoes, preparing mixed consignments for the homeward run to Amsterdam or elsewhere along the Netherlandish seaboard.

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