Heritage and the Politics of Culture
Maritime Distribution of Chinese Ceramics.
Shipments of porcelain and the Dutch East India Company (VOC) during the first half of the seventeenth century.
C. L. Ketel, PhD. Candidate LIAS, Leiden University.
During the Tang, Song, Yuan and early Ming dynasties, Chinese ceramics were mainly transported within Asia and to the Middle East. Several Chinese kilns increased their output to cater to overseas demand. Most items were identical to those produced for the domestic market but there were some adaptations to suit a particular region. Ceramic fragments from shipwrecks are compared to shards from Chinese kiln sites to determine what these were.
With the arrival of Western merchants in Asia towards the end of the 16th century, shapes and dimensions of porcelain items such as dishes and bowls became adjusted to Western standards. A particular panel pattern design was applied to the ‘foreign’ items that became known as Kraak porcelain. I explain how this term came into use and discuss the chronological dating given to this ware.
The third part covers the period of the high tide of Chinese porcelain shipments, during which the Dutch East India Company operated first from Bantam, then Batavia and last from Fort Zeelandia on Formosa. I explain the system of how porcelain was ordered, supplied by Chinese junks from the coastal regions of Fujian and its transport to various regions. Thereby the VOC became the prime carriers of Chinese porcelain in the world during the first half of the seventeenth century.