Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ceramic Shards of Singapore: Porcelain 'blue and white ware'

'Blue and white' porcelain: Porcelain is different from other types of ceramics because it is made from a pure white clay called kaolin which is found mainly in the Jingdezhen area in Jiangxi province in China. This place therefore became an important place for producing high quality porcelain which was exported to Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

China stone from open pits are smashed by water driven pestles as raw materials for making porcelain.

During the later half of the Song Dynasty, cobalt blue was painted on the surface of the white body of the porcelain before they were put in the kiln. The blue and white design made it popular throughout Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

This process was refined during the Yuan and Ming dynasty. It grew popular all the way to Europe and was widely traded by Euroepean traders from the 15h century onwards.

Because Chinese ceramics are easily broken and fragile, they are rare and very expensive. Some records exist to show that some Southeast Asian communities used Chinese ceramics as gifts to rulers. They also used them as gifts to celebrate the birth of a child within the community.

Description of finds in Singapore:Blue and white porcelain shards were found mostly at Fort Canning. They were also recovered from any 14th century shipwrecks around the waters of the South China Sea.


Miksic, J.N. Singapore and the Silk Road of the Sea 1300-1800. Singapore: NUS Press and National Museum of Singapore, 2013)

Miksic, J.N & Low, Cheryl-Ann Mek Gek (Eds). Early Singapore 1300s – 1819. (Singapore: Singapore History Museum, 2004)

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