The Maritime Silk Road in China had developed from the Qin and Han dynasties through the dynasties of Sui, Tang, Song and Yuan, and it entered its golden age in the Ming dynasty. Along the prosperous maritime trade, ceramics were exported overseas during that time. The frequent maritime trade activities gave rise to the cultural exchanges as well as the development of nautical technologies.
An exhibition entitled "Sailing the Seven Seas: Legends of Maritime Trade of Ming Dynasty" displays around 200 archaeological finds from old ships of the Ming dynasty to showcase the flourishing trade of the Maritime Silk Road. It includes the artefacts recovered from shipwrecks ‘Nan’ao I’ and ‘Wanli’, as well as Ming ceramics unearthed from Penny’s Bay in Lantau and Wun Yiu in Tai Po of Hong Kong.
Wun Yiu in Tai Po
Large quantities of ceramics produced in China were recovered from the shipwrecks ‘Nan’ao I’ and ‘Wanli’, illustrating that mass volumes of ceramics were exported in the maritime trade of the Ming dynasty. Besides, export items such as pottery ware, metal ware and agricultural produce came in large varieties and were highly popular in overseas markets.
The "Great Ming paper currency" that circulated during the Ming dynasty
Copper acupuncture needles
Bone dice collected from old ships
Highlight exhibits from the exhibition include the "Great Ming paper currency" that circulated during the Ming dynasty; and Chinese herbal medicines, food and daily necessities collected from old ships, such as poria, copper acupuncture needles and bone dice.
Blue and White Kendi with Elephant Head Design
A highlight of Ming ceramics featured in this exhibition is a Blue and White Kendi with Elephant Head Design. A Kendi is pouring vessel with a spout on the side but without a handle. It has played a significant role in the rituals and daily life of the region since ancient times. This blue and white kendi, dating Wanli reign (1573-1620) in Ming Dynasty, was recovered from the ‘Wanli’ shipwreck.
Sailing the Seven Seas: Legends of Maritime Trade of Ming Dynasty
Date: 3 November 2017 – 4 March 2018
Venue: Thematic Exhibition Gallery, Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre
Hong Kong Heritage Discovery Centre
Address: Kowloon Park, Haiphong, Haiphong Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
Mondays to Wednesdays, Friday｜10am - 6pm
Weekends, Public Holidays｜10am - 7pm
Thursdays, 16-17 February｜Closed