Sunken Treasure Exhibition

The ongoing exhibition ‘Sunken Treasure: The Underwater Secret’ displays artefacts from eleven shipwrecks from around the waters of Malaysia. It ends on 31 October; do drop by the exhibition at Muzium Negara.

On display are a number of blue-and-white pieces from a collection of 24,000 recovered from The Diana. This ship belonged to an agency house based in Calcutta (Kolkata) owned by John Palmer. She was licensed to the East India Company and was used to make the trade run between India and China. Having delivered cotton and opium to China, she was on the journey back laden with ceramics, silk and tea when she hit some rocks and sank off the coast of Melaka. She was found on 21 December 1993, 178 years after sinking.

Blue-and-white plate from The Diana
Ceramic trinkets recovered from The Diana

The Royal Nanhai, dating circa 1460, was discovered off the coast of Kuantan in 1995. Salvage of this 28-metre Southeast Asian vessel was completed in May 1998 yielding 21,000 pieces of ceramics. While most of the ceramics were from the Si Satchanalai kilns in Thailand, four Chinese and two Vietnamese blue-and-white pieces were found concealed below the floorboards.

An artist’s impression of the Royal Nanhai
A celadon Si Satchanalai plate from the Royal Nanhai

The Desaru was a Chinese vessel dated to 1845 that sank off the coast of Johor, near Desaru. It was a narrow ship, 30 metres in length and 7 metres wide, made of pine and cedar. Salvage recovered Chinese ceramics with a large number of blue-and-white spoons.

A brass iron from the Desaru
A brown-glazed storage jar covered in barnacles recovered from the Desaru
Kamcheng Guan from the Desaru

Author: Museum Volunteers, JMM

Museum Volunteers, JMM Taking the Mystery out of History

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