This National Museum of the Philippines post features the stoneware and porcelain ceramics from a 16th century Common Era shipwreck that sunk off Gujangan Island, Sulu. The site was accidentally discovered in the late 1990s by deep-sea fishermen using the improvised hookah system, also known as compressor diving, which uses a hose supplied with surface air through a compressor. The shipwreck was heavily looted before it was reported to the National Museum of the Philippines (NMP). In 1998, archaeologists from the National Museum of the Philippines visited the site and collected sample specimens but were not able to carry out systematic excavations.
A previous post that focused on the Gujangan shipwreck revealed badly deteriorated wooden remains but still show clear evidence of a lashed-lug boat construction, where a series of protruding lugs, or “tambuko,” were carved from the planks, bored with holes, and used to secure or lash boat frames and other components. This is significant because it represents probably the most recent archaeological evidence of lashed-lug boat construction in Southeast Asia (
read here: https://tinyurl.com/d64vjpm9).
The Philippine Navy and the NMP collected mostly broken ceramic samples consisting of Chinese blue and white porcelain; blue and white dishes, bowls and cups; polychrome porcelain bowls with overglaze red and green colors; porcelain monochrome white bowls and dishes; as well as brown stoneware jars.
The shape and decoration of the ceramics point to an early 16th century production in Jiangxi and Fujian Provinces in China, possibly during the reign of emperor Zhengde (1505–1521). These are considered low quality export wares produced by the common or people’s kilns (minyao), contrary to the high-quality ceramics from the imperial kilns (guanyao) that are used exclusively by the emperor and his high court.
Text and poster by the Maritime and Underwater Cultural Heritage Division @National Museum of the Philippines (2021)
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