November 22, 2014

Chinese Ceramics in Sumatra: Recent Discoveries


THE TWO major kingdoms of Malayu and Srivijaya were important links in the east-west trading network. Both formed in the 7th century CE. The study of Chinese ceramics in Indonesia has been the province of collectors and art historians rather than archaeologists. As a result, we have little data on the precise provenance of many important examples, including those in the National Museum in Jakarta.

During the past few years archaeologists have been conducting important excavations in the highlands of West Sumatra. It now seems that the capital of the kingdom of Malayu moved far into the hinterlands of Sumatra in the 13th century. Previously the port of Muara Jambi in the lowlands had been the kingdom's centre. Chinese ceramics of the 13th through 16th centuries there illuminate important aspects of Malayu's economy and society during this critical period of history.

Unfortunately local rivermen have recently begun to use suction devices to search for artefacts on riverbeds in both Jambi and South Sumatra. In Palembang, Srivijaya's capital, a large quantity of items has come onto the backstreet antique market. These antiquities include ceramics of many varieties, including some which may have extraordinary value both commercially and academically. This talk will show examples of these recent finds.[]


John N. Miksic, "Chinese Ceramics in Sumatra: Recent Discoveries", Paper presented at the Chinese Ceramics Workshop "China and Southeast Asia: Ceramics and Interactions in the Past Millennium", The Angkor Research Program and the China Studies Centre, The University of Sydney, 7 August 2012 and 9 August 2012.

Visit here for more information about the workshop.

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