Pater Gratia Oriental Art

The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

The Vung Tau Cargo

 

c.1690

 

The Vung Tau Wreck was discovered by fishermen of the islands of Con Dao in the south of Vietnam.

Sverker Hallstrom obtained the license to excavate the wreck after the Vietnam Salvage Corporation

(Visal) had carried out preliminary excavation. The starboard side of the hull, from the keel to the

waterline, remained in good condition. It was found to be the hull of a lorcha, a ship of combined

Eastern and Western influence, and the first ever found. The wreck has been dated to c.1690.

From an analysis of the cargo it seems that the ship was bound from China to Batavia where the

bulk of the ceramics would have been transhipped to a Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde

Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC) vessel for the onward voyage to Holland.

 

The porcelain was destined for a port where it would have been transhipped onto a VOC vessel for the

onward voyage to Holland. The other goods were to supply the Chinese community at the same port.

 

That port was Batavia.

 

Christie's Amsterdam auctioned the porcelain cargo in April 1992.

2011498
2011498

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2011498

 

Circular box and cover

 

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height with cover 50 mm (1.97 inch), height without cover 27 mm (1.06 inch), diameter: 95 mm (3.74 inch), diameter rim box 82 mm (3.23 inch), diameter rim cover 87 mm (3.43 inch),  weight with cover 112 grams (3.95 ounce (oz.)), weight cover 45 grams (1.59 ounce (oz.))

 

Of blanc-de-Chine porcelain circular box and cover on a flat unglazed base. Decorated in white glaze, the top moulded with a peony flowering on a gnarled stem, surrounded by fluted sides. On the box and cover the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been one of 24 circular boxes and cover sold in lot 453. (Amsterdam 1992, p.60

 

Until recently, all unpainted, white pieces with a creamy, smooth glaze that is well fused with the body, were named blanc-de-Chine and supposed to have been made in the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province. The figures of Guanyin, of immortals, sages and others were highly appreciated in the West, in particular for adorning the interior. As the Hatcher wreck has shown, figurines and other blanc-de-Chine wares were already part of the export assortment in the mid-17th century, while English East India Company papers document their popularity in Europe around 1700. Such pieces fitted excellently into the demand for curious, new and exotic pieces, and for rarities and thus delivered good profits to their importers. Gradually, however, more information has become available about the complexity of the Dehua production, the many kilns that produced these wares in a wide area around Dehua, the differences in quality and the imitations made elsewhere. The Vung Tau cargo has simply added another piece or two to the puzzle, making us realise once again that blanc de Chine is only a very generic name and that. in fact, we know little about these wares. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.85)

 

These circular covered boxes came in two varieties. The commonest is a low, circular box with a flattened domed cover and small vertical ribs on both cover and base all around. The cover moulded  with a raised design of a peony flowering on a gnarled stem, surrounded by fluted sides. It is interesting to know that the covered boxes were found in four sizes, all with the same decoration. They all fit nicely into each other, and the suggestion is made here that they thus formed sets and were sold as such. Formerly this type of boxes was indiscriminately dated as Ming. Now that the differences between early pieces and the later varieties have become more clear, these Vung Tau pieces have become the basis for comparison. The other variety of the covered box is the so-called betel box which is of waisted oval shape with a moulded decoration on the cover of a peony spray surrounded by a lotus scroll. Inside, the box has been divided into two compartments in order to contain cut betel-nuts and lime. Together these ingredients were used for sireh chewing, mixing them in a fresh leaf of the betel plant. This habit was and still is popular and wide spread in Southeast Asia, a practice for the purpose of cleaning the mouth and providing a mild stimulant. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, pp.87-88)

 

The exact purpose of these circular covered boxes is unclear, but in their pristine glazed condition they were attractive evidence of the delicacy of eastern porcelain, and merchants probably had little difficulty in selling them in Europe for patches, pills and other uses. However few were known before the the Vung Tau Cargo was salvaged. (Howard 1994, pp.220-221)

 

In total 155 of these 90 mm (3.54 inch) white-glazed circular boxes and covers were sold divided over lots; 452-458. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

For identically decorated circular boxes and covers, please see;

Condition: A firing crack to the cover.

 

References:

Amsterdam 1992, lots 452-458 & 460(part)

Howard 1994, cat. 258

Jörg & Flecker 2001Fig. 87

Litzenburg 2003, p.85 & cat. 16

 

Price: Sold.

 

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2010532
2010532

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010532

 

Soup spoon

  

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 32 mm (1,26 inch), diameter of rim 40 mm (1.58 inch), length 123 mm (4.84 inch), weight 29 grams (1.02 ounce (oz.))

 

A Fujian, of blanc-de-Chine porcelain soup spoon according to a traditional Chinese model with a pointed oval deep part, narrowing into the curved handle. The end has a moulded design of three dots on small stems. The base is unglazed.On the soup spoon the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale label proving it has been part of lot 466, one of 46 blanc-de-Chine soup spoons. (Amsterdam 1992, p.62)

 

Until recently, all unpainted, white pieces with a creamy, smooth glaze that is well fused with the body, were named blanc-de-Chine and supposed to have been made in the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province. The figures of Guanyin, of immortals, sages and others were highly appreciated in the West, in particular for adorning the interior. As the Hatcher wreck has shown, figurines and other blanc-de-Chine wares were already part of the export assortment in the mid-17th century, while English East India Company papers document their popularity in Europe around 1700. Such pieces fitted excellently into the demand for curious, new and exotic pieces, and for rarities and thus delivered good profits to their importers. Gradually, however, more information has become available about the complexity of the Dehua production, the many kilns that produced these wares in a wide area around Dehua, the differences in quality and the imitations made elsewhere. The Vung Tau cargo has simply added another piece or two to the puzzle, making us realise once again that blanc de Chine is only a very generic name and that. in fact, we know little about these wares. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.85)

 

Spoons are notoriously difficult to date, so we are lucky to have these documented pieces. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.90)

 

In total 374 soup spoons were sold divided over the lots: 461-466. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: A chip to the rim.

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 461-466

Jörg & Flecker, 2001, p.85 & fig. 93

 

Price: € 299 - $ 333 - £ 270

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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2010657
2010657

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010657

 

Cup

  

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 47 mm (1.85 inch), diameter of rim 72 mm (2.83 inch), diameter of footring 34 mm (1.34 inch), weight 66 grams (2.33 ounce (oz.))

 

A Fujian, of blanc-de-Chine porcelain, cup with a high footring steep sides and a straight rim. (On the cup the original Christie's ''Vung Tau Cargo' lot label proving it has been one of 30 cups sold in lot 507. The original Christie's 'Vung Tau Cargo' sale lot label to the base is missing. (Amsterdam 1992, p.65

 

Until recently, all unpainted, white pieces with a creamy, smooth glaze that is well fused with the body, were named blanc-de-Chine and supposed to have been made in the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province. The figures of Guanyin, of immortals, sages and others were highly appreciated in the West, in particular for adorning the interior. As the Hatcher wreck has shown, figurines and other blanc-de-Chine wares were already part of the export assortment in the mid-17th century, while English East India Company papers document their popularity in Europe around 1700. Such pieces fitted excellently into the demand for curious, new and exotic pieces, and for rarities and thus delivered good profits to their importers. Gradually, however, more information has become available about the complexity of the Dehua production, the many kilns that produced these wares in a wide area around Dehua, the differences in quality and the imitations made elsewhere. The Vung Tau cargo has simply added another piece or two to the puzzle, making us realise once again that blanc de Chine is only a very generic name and that. in fact, we know little about these wares. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.85)

 

Two varieties of blanc-de-Chine cups, one in two sizes the other in three all undecorated, were salvaged, which were most likely teacups,

 

The first variety is small on a low footring, has spreading sides and a flaring rim

 

The first type of this first variety measures 60 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 35 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 108 of these 60 mm (2.36 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 508 (60 items) and 509 (48 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The second type of this first variety measures 75 mm (2.95 inch) in diameter and 40 mm (1.57 inch) in height, in total only 385 of these 75 mm (2.95 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 510 (100 items), 511 (100 items). 512 (100 items), 513 (60 items) and 514 (25 items). For an example of this (tea) cup, please see:

The second variety has a thick higher footring and is deeper with steep straight sides.

 

The first type of this second variety measures 70 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 50 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 66 of these 70 mm (2.76 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 506 (36 items) and 507 (30 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The second type of the second variety measures 60 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 37 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 302 of these 70 mm (2.76 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 515 (100 items), 516 (100 items). 517 (60 items) and 518 (42 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The third type of this second variety measures 45 mm (1.77 inch) in diameter and 25 mm (0.98 inch) in height, in total only 523 of these 45 mm (1.77 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 519 (100 items), 520 (100 items). 521 (100 items), 522 (100 items), 523 (60 items), 524 (36 items) and 525 (27 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

Condition: A hairline to the rim.

 

References:

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 508-509

Jörg & Flecker, 2001, fig. 92

 

Price: € 299 - $ 371 - £ 264

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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2010656
2010656

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010656

 

Cup

  

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 34 mm (1.34 inch), diameter of rim 60 mm (2.36 inch), diameter of footring 22 mm (0.87 inch), weight 30 grams (1.06 ounce (oz.))

 

A Fujian, of blanc-de-Chine porcelain, small cup on a low footring with spreading sides and a flaring rim. On the cup the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale lot label proving it has been one of 48 small cups sold in lot 509. On the inner wall the remains of the 2nd auction label that also had the lot number 509 and quantity number (48) referring to the total items sold in this lot. (Amsterdam 1992, p.65

 

Until recently, all unpainted, white pieces with a creamy, smooth glaze that is well fused with the body, were named blanc-de-Chine and supposed to have been made in the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province. The figures of Guanyin, of immortals, sages and others were highly appreciated in the West, in particular for adorning the interior. As the Hatcher wreck has shown, figurines and other blanc-de-Chine wares were already part of the export assortment in the mid-17th century, while English East India Company papers document their popularity in Europe around 1700. Such pieces fitted excellently into the demand for curious, new and exotic pieces, and for rarities and thus delivered good profits to their importers. Gradually, however, more information has become available about the complexity of the Dehua production, the many kilns that produced these wares in a wide area around Dehua, the differences in quality and the imitations made elsewhere. The Vung Tau cargo has simply added another piece or two to the puzzle, making us realise once again that blanc de Chine is only a very generic name and that. in fact, we know little about these wares. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.85)

 

Two varieties of blanc-de-Chine cups, one in two sizes the other in three all undecorated, were salvaged, which were most likely teacups,

 

The first variety is small on a low footring, has spreading sides and a flaring rim

 

The first type of this first variety measures 60 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 35 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 108 of these 60 mm (2.36 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 508 (60 items) and 509 (48 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The second type of this first variety measures 75 mm (2.95 inch) in diameter and 40 mm (1.57 inch) in height, in total only 385 of these 75 mm (2.95 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 510 (100 items), 511 (100 items). 512 (100 items), 513 (60 items) and 514 (25 items). For an example of this (tea) cup, please see:

The second variety has a thick higher footring and is deeper with steep straight sides.

 

The first type of this second variety measures 70 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 50 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 66 of these 70 mm (2.76 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 506 (36 items) and 507 (30 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The second type of the second variety measures 60 mm (2.36 inch) in diameter and 37 mm (1.37 inch) in height, in total only 302 of these 70 mm (2.76 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 515 (100 items), 516 (100 items). 517 (60 items) and 518 (42 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

The third type of this second variety measures 45 mm (1.77 inch) in diameter and 25 mm (0.98 inch) in height, in total only 523 of these 45 mm (1.77 inch) small (tea)cups were sold divided over the lots; 519 (100 items), 520 (100 items). 521 (100 items), 522 (100 items), 523 (60 items), 524 (36 items) and 525 (27 items). For an example of this (tea)cup, please see:

Condition: Two hairlines to the rim and a hairline sideways to the wall.

 

References:

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 508-509

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 92

 

Price: € 299 - $ 371 - £ 264

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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201069
201069

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 201069

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 58 mm (2.28 inch), diameter of rim 115 mm (4.53 inch), diameter of footring 40 mm (1.58 inch), weight 162 grams (5.71 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring with spreading sides, a flaring rim and an unglazed base. Covered with a greenish celadon type glaze, decorated in underglaze blue. On the bottom a character in a roundel. On the exterior wall four different characters. On the bowl the two original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been part of lot 963, one of 200 bowls sold in this lot. (Amsterdam 1992, p.128)

 

These 'provincial' wares formed the bulk of the shipment of southern wares and were originally sold as food bowls, they received minimum care when stowed: piled on top of each other and crammed under roofbeams. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.81)

 

In total 2,281 bowls, by Christie's named the 'Provincial blue and white bowls', were sold divided over the lots: 1000-1011. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: Perfect. 

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 960-977

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 81

 

Price: € 199 - $ 221 - £ 179

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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2010391
2010391

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010391

 

Pottery lamp

  

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 35 mm (1.38 inch), diameter of rim 135 mm (5.32 inch), diameter of foot 55 mm (2.17 inch), weight 229 grams (8.08 ounce (oz.))

 

An unglazed and undecorated pottery dished circular lamp on a flat base, applied with a handle on the rim. On the lamp the two original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been part of lot 978, one of 100 lamps. (Amsterdam 1992, p.130

 

These very ordinary pieces have a quiet romance, showing the fingerprint of the potter on the handle, thus bringing in a personal touch, bridging time and cultures. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.91)

 

It was to be filled with fat or oil and a wick when used as a lamp.

 

In total 759 pottery lamps were sold divided over the lots: 978-989 & 893. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: Perfect.

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lot 978-982 & 893

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 95

 

Price: € 199 - $ 221 - £ 179

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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2010393
2010393

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010393

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 63 mm (2.48 inch), diameter of rim 120 mm (4.72 inch), diameter of footring 50 mm (1.97 inch), weight 238 grams (8.40 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring, spreading sides, a straight rim and a partially glazed base. Decorated with freely painted branches with leaves in iron-red and circular patches of green enamel. The enamel and iron-red have deteriorated due to the long immersion in the sea, leaving  nothing but a few traces of green an iron-red. On the bowl the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been one of 285 bowls sold in lot 1000. (Amsterdam 1992, p.132)

 

These 'provincial' wares formed the bulk of the shipment of southern wares and were originally sold as food bowls, they received minimum care when stowed: piled on top of each other and crammed under roofbeams. (Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.81)

 

In total 892 bowls, by Christie's named the 'Provincial clear glazed bowls', were sold divided over the lots: 1000-1011. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: Perfect.

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, p.132, lots 1000-1011

Jörg & Flecker 2001, pp.82-83, fig. 82a

 

Price: € 199 - $ 221 - £ 179

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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2010978
2010978

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010978

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 55 mm (2.51 inch), diameter of rim 117 mm (4.61 inch), diameter of footring 50 mm (1.97 inch), weight 214 grams (7.55 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring, spreading sides, a straight rim with a partially glazed base. Decorated with freely painted branches with leaves in iron-red and circular patches of green enamel. The enamel and iron-red have totally deteriorated due to the long immersion in the sea. On the bowl the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been one of 100 bowls sold in lot 1.001. (Amsterdam 1992, p.132)

 

These 'provincial' wares formed the bulk of the shipment of southern wares and were originally sold as food bowls, they received minimum care when stowed: piled on top of each other and crammed under roofbeams(Jörg & Flecker 2001, p.81)

 

Of this specific type, by Christie's named the 'Provincial clear glazed bowls', a total of 892 bowls were sold divided over the lots: 1000-1011. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: A tiny frit to the rim.

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 1000-1011

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 82a

 

Price: € 199 - $ 221 - £ 179

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

More pictures >>

2010977
2010977

Shipwreck Porcelains - The Vung Tau Cargo, c.1690

 

Object 2010977

 

Bowl

 

China

 

c.1690

 

Provenance: The Vung Tau Cargo. Chinese Export Porcelain sale, Christie's Amsterdam, 7-8 April 1992.

 

Height 56 mm (2.20 inch), diameter of rim 120 mm (4.72 inch), diameter of footring 50 mm (1.97 inch), weight 214 grams (7.55 ounce (oz.))

 

Bowl on footring, spreadingh sides, a straight rim with a partially glazed base. Decorated with freely painted branches with leaves in iron-red and circular patches of green enamel. The enamel and iron-red have deteriorated due to the long immersion in the sea, leaving  nothing but a few traces of green. Round the footring written in black with a permanent marker; "HC90-6m 301". On the bowl the original Christie's "Vung Tau Cargo" sale labels proving it has been one of 60 bowls sold in lot 1006. (Amsterdam 1992, p.132)

 

In total 892 bowls, by Christie's named the 'Provincial clear glazed bowls', were sold divided over the lots: 1000-1011. (Amsterdam 1992)

 

Condition: Perfect.

 

References: 

Jongsma 1992, pp.453-456

Amsterdam 1992, lots 1000-1011

Jörg & Flecker 2001, fig. 82a

 

Price: € 199 - $ 221 - £ 179

(the $ and £ prices are approximates and depend on the € price exchange rate)

 

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