Home >> Video

A lost pearl of maritime trade: Changsha ware in the Tang Dynasty

Updated: 2024-07-11 16:36 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
Share - WeChat

In 1998, a Javanese fisherman who planned to collect sea cucumbers in the waters off Belitung Island, Indonesia, accidentally came across some ceramic items, thus leading to the uncovering of a shipwreck sunken for more than 1,200 years.

This dramatic discovery was just the beginning of a tale of lost treasures reclaimed. The shipwreck was found to contain more than 56,000 Changsha ware, providing a glimpse into the ancient global trade between the Arab world and China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), a period of China's imperial era renowned for its flourishing culture.

It was the continuous warfare during mid-to-late Tang Dynasty in the northern area of the empire that first led craftsmen to migrate southward to the verdant Changsha region, bringing with them the latest ceramic production techniques. Fired in the Tongguan Kilns on the outskirts of the commercial hub of Changsha, the Changsha ware industry thrived for over 200 years through the 8th and 9th centuries. Connected with major sea ports through a network of waterways, the Kilns has enabled the exports of its products to East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia, West Asia and North Africa. The heavy and fragile ceramics, unsuitable for large-scale long-distance land transportation, found a new way for exports, propelling the emergence of the maritime ceramics road.

Watch the video to catch a glimpse into a historically prosperous period of maritime trade.