Pater Gratia Oriental Art

The Ca Mau Shipwreck c.1725 wares


The Ca Mau Shipwreck, c.1725


The Ca Mau shipwreck was a Chinese ocean going junk, almost certainly en route from Canton (now Kuangzhou) to the Dutch trading port of Batavia (now Jakarta). Disaster struck of the Ca Mau peninsular, there was a fire on board so severe that some of the porcelain was fused together. There were a few wine cups recovered bearing the mark of the Emperor Yongzheng who reigned from 1723 to 1735. By this time tea and coffee was the rage throughout Europe and the principal traders were the British 'Honourable East India Company' and the Dutch East India Company, (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, VOC). With the demand for tea came demand for porcelain by which to drink it and so most of what they imported in these year was tea wares.(Amsterdam 2007, pp.8-9)


The Ca Mau shipwreck was discovered by fishermen working of the Ca Mau peninsular when their nets snagged on it. When they realised the porcelain was saleable they began dredging up as much as possible. Once the Vietnamese Ministry of Culture and Information realised what was happening they moved in quickly to secure the wreck site. The excavation was lead by the Curator of The National Museum of Vietnamese culture. In all, 130,000 pieces were recovered and 76,000 of the finer condition pieces were selected to be sold as 'Made in Imperial China. 76,000 pieces of Chinese Export Porcelain from the Ca Mau Shipwreck, circa 1725' by Sotheby’s Amsterdam on 29, 30 & 31 January 2007. (Amsterdam 2007, pp.6-7


The Ca Mau wreck was first reported on in the daily newspaper Tuoi Tre (Youth) on May the 5th 1998. Accordingly, the authority of Binh Thuan province had confiscated 32,569 artefacts and 2,4 tons of metal objects recovered illegally by two fishermen from a shipwreck off the coast of Ca Mau province. Two experts dated 33,978 artefacts, mainly ceramics, to the Yongzheng reign of the Qing dynasty (1723-1735). Afterward, the recoveries, coded CMI, were handed over to the Binh Thuan Museum. (Amsterdam 2007, p.11)

Currently there are no "Ca Mau" wares for sale.