- 2006/11/11 Treasures from the sea

Many people are interested in purchasing antiques Ė especially the most expensive ones Ė but whether they know the history behind the piece is a different matter altogether.

Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn Bhd managing director Sten Sjostrand said people often asked which ceramic bowl or treasure was the most expensive and they would buy that piece.

Image: Sjostrand with one of the artefacts that is being exhibited.
Sjostrand with one of the artefacts that is being exhibited.

"It is not about a 600-year-old bowl you purchase; it is the 600-year-old history behind it," said Sjostrand, the principal researcher of nine historical shipwrecks off the Malaysian coast, during a press conference for the exhibition and sale of shipwreck ceramics titled Treasures of the South China Sea.

The exhibition, organised by Hua Hong Antique House, is currently being held at Aquaria KLCC in Kuala Lumpur. It features a 15.3m-long (51ft-long) walk through a life-size shipwreck model, the longest shipwreck model ever built indoors in Malaysia.

Visitors will have the opportunity to touch, feel and purchase the ancient, exclusive artefacts, which were recovered from nine historical shipwrecks off the coast of Malaysia. They span more than 1,000 years, dating from the 10th to the 19th century.

Sjostrand takes pains to educate visitors on which ship carried a particular piece exhibited and where the wreck was, as well as explaining to them why, in some shipwrecks, 90% of the pottery was broken.

His team of researchers also delved into why certain designs adorn the ceramics found in different ships and where the pieces were made.

"There is a reason why some things were designed and made during a particular era," said Sjostrand.

Sjostrand will also be conducting complimentary guided tours on his discoveries and on the development of ceramic artefacts, which led to centuries of successful maritime trade.

These tours will be held at the Multi Purpose Hall at Aquaria at 2pm and 5pm every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the exhibition.

The exhibition is held in collaboration with the Department of Museums Malaysia. The department is showcasing many of its one-off unique artefacts, while personnel from the maritime department will be sharing information on Malaysian Maritime Heritage and behind-the-scenes work on repairing ceramics and recording motifs from the artefacts recovered.

Among the ceramics recovered that are being sold are pieces from the Sung, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties recovered from nine shipwrecks Ė Tanjung Simpang, Turiang, Nanyang, Longquan, Royal Nanhai, Xuande, Singtai, Wanli and Desaru.

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