A shipwreck

In 1998 a shipwreck was discovered by accident in the Gelasa Strait, near the islands of Bangka and Belitung in the Java Sea. It turned out to be an Arabic dhow, filled with Tang dynasty ceramics (around 60,000 pieces), gold, silver and spice-filled jars. The dhow itself was unusual, held together by coconut fibre instead of pegs. It was 6.4 m wide and 18 m long and made out of teak and rosewood.

The dhow dates to the 9th century, with many of the items intact. It is called Changsha ware as it was made in Changsha in the Hunan Province. The bowls were stored in dunan jars, which protected them from being destroyed by the tides and coral growth.

The bowls had both Asian and Islamic designs, showing the markets the bowls were made for. The ultimate destination was thought to have been Abbasid Al Basra (Basra today). This became one of the most information rich finds of the Silk Road, showing the routes taken hauling heavy objects like ceramics.

The Sultan of Oman had a replica made of the dhow, and gifted it to the people of Singapore. The site covering the Jewel of Muscat has a lot of information about the replica and it’s voyage to Singapore. However, some of the artifacts are in an exhibit in the Freer & Sackler Gallery, as well as in Singapore.
Editorial: Tang Treasures, Monsoon Winds and a Storm in a Teacup on Wreckwatch.
Made in China: A 1,200-year-old shipwreck opens a window on ancient global trade by Simon Worrall. National Geographic Magazine.
Changsha Blue and Copper Red Wares and The Religious Motifs by Lim Yah Chiew (Singapore) on koh-antinque.com.
Changsha on koh-antique.com.

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