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Binh Thuan Shipwreck "CRANE DISH" Ming Dynasty, Wanli period, circa 1608. Shows a beautiful free hand painted crane surround by reed beds and foilage. Fishscale pattern border.

In early 2001, Vietnamese fishermen discovered the wreck of the Binh Thuan 40 miles off the coast of Binh Thuan Province, southern Vietnam. The hull was that of a Chinese junk, 24 m long, 7 m wide, and divided into 25 narrow compartments by transverse bulkheads. Archival evidence points to the junk of the unfortunate merchant, I Sin Ho, who was transporting a cargo of silk and Chinese goods from China to Johore on the Malay Peninsula for the Dutch when his ship sank off the south of Vietnam in 1608. The Dutch traders were restricted from entering Chinese ports so would have used these wares to barter for spices in South-East Asian markets.

Australian maritime archaeologist Dr Michael Flecker led the excavation of the ship in 2002. The non-perishable cargo comprised cast-iron pans and Zhangzhou (Swatow) porcelain: blue-and-white, overglaze enamels, and a combination of the two. This is the first dedicated cargo of Zhangzhou porcelain to ever be found. There were also finer blue-and-white ceramics in a variety of shapes from other kilns. Non-ceramic artefacts were typical of a Chinese junk, and included locks, a scales set, chopsticks, and copper alloy bowls and dishes.

The Vietnamese Government selected all unique ceramics and artefacts, and four fully representative sets to remain in Vietnam for ongoing study and museum display throughout the country. The remainder, all multi-duplicates, were made available for sale. A large part of the proceeds were earmarked for the construction of a museum in Binh Thuan Province to house the wreck finds and other cultural objects. Christie's Australia conducted an auction in Melbourne on the 1st and 2nd of March 2004 in which 900 of the ceramics were sold for a total of A$2 million.

Condition: Fine. The foot of the dish has grit from the seabed or kiln..

Dimensions: 17.7cm x 3.5cm.

Provenance: Ex. private collection, UK. Purchased at UK auction. *One of 900 pieces auctioned by Christie's Australia on the 1st and 2nd of March 2004.


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