A lecture on the historical significance of the Belitung Wreck
Dish with floral lozenge decoration. China, probably Henan Province. Gongxian kilns. Tang dynasty, ca. 825–50. Glazed stoneware with cobalt-blue pigment over white slip. Approx. H. 1 1/4 x Diam. 8 in. (4.5 x 22.5 cm). Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore, 2005.1.00473. Photography by Asian Civilisations Museum, Courtesy of John Tsantes and Robert Harrell
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Scholar and curator John Guy explores the unique insights that shipwreck archaeology can bring to our understanding of historical trade and exchange. This unprecedented ensemble of late Tang dynasty ceramics, gold and silver, discovered in the Belitung shipwreck, throws light on both Chinese arts of the period and those of the Abbasids in the Persian Gulf, the intended clients for this ill-fated cargo which sank in the Java Sea in the early ninth century.
John Guy is the Florence and Herbert Irving Curator of the Arts of South and Southeast Asia at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and an elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London. He was formerly Senior Curator of South Asia at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, has served as an advisor to UNESCO on historical sites in Southeast Asia, and worked on a number of maritime excavations in Southeast Asia. He has curated numerous international exhibitions and contributed to many publications. Major books include Lost Kingdoms: Hindu-Buddhist Sculpture of Early Southeast Asia (2014), Interwoven Globe. The Worldwide Textile Trade, 1500-1800 (co-author, 2013), Wonder of the Age: Master Painters of India (co-author, 2011), Shipwrecked. Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds (co-author 2010), Indian Temple Sculpture (2007), Woven Cargoes. Indian Textiles in the East (1998; repr. 2009), Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition (Chicago 1997), Indian Art and Connoisseurship (1995), and Ceramic Traditions of Southeast Asia (1989). He has two papers in press on recent shipwreck finds, in The Tang Shipwreck (Asian Civilisations Museum 2017) and in the Journal of Siam Society (vol. 105, 2017).