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Concluding remarks

The seas around and graves sites in the Philippines and Indonesia were the sources of most of the ceramics in this exhibition. It was only in the late 1940s that trade ceramics moved to the front burner. The closure of Chinese antique markets after the communist victory forced new directions in collecting and resulted in the rise of interest in trade ceramics. With the growth of international trade and foreign investment in the newly independent Southeast Asian states many more buyers and traders became involved. The heirlooms of tribal peoples in Borneo and the Philippines gradually moved into the moneyed economy as Southeast Asian capital cities started their expansion in the 1950s.

As the knowledge of and interest in these wares grew, oriental ceramic societies started up in the region (Singapore in 1971, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur in 1973, and Manila in 1981). Literature on these old dear pots exploded after the first trade ceramics exhibitions in Singapore in 1971 and London (1974). Much of the best writing on trade ceramics took place in Southeast Asia where the pots could be readily studied. Particularly notable were the ground-breaking works by Dr. Roxanna Brown, publications by the Indonesia Ceramic Society (Himpunan Keramic Indonesia) under the leadership of Mara Adhyatman and by the Southeast Asian Ceramic Societies in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, John Shaw's studies of Northern Thai wares and the Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines' beautiful and useful catalogues of trade wares found in that country. Most of these books, some now dating over a quarter of a century, still remain bench mark references for today's collectors and museum curators.

The difficult wartime and economic conditions in Vietnam and Cambodia inhibited local research on their ceramics until recently. One respected Vietnamese ceramic archaeologist reported that he earned his doctorate in underground classrooms built to avoid bombing during the American war. The devastation of the killing fields of Cambodia resulted in the loss of a generation of Cambodia scholars and the stoppage of the groundbreaking work of French savants in the 1970s. Today, work is underway by Southeast Asian archaeologists and scholars, often with the help of Japanese and Australian specialists.

The most important recent development has been the emergence of underwater ceramic archaeology. The first scientific recovery of shipwrecked Thai ceramics was done in the Gulf of Siam in 1975 by the Thai Fine Arts Department. Today this is a booming business. Undersea excavations are carried out in cooperation with local governments which take the pick of the recoveries for their museums. The rest is auctioned off. Spectacular sales happened in the mid-1980s in Amsterdam and in San Francisco in 2000 when tens of thousands of Chinese and 15th century Vietnamese ceramics sold for millions of dollars.

In a time when a single Chinese vase can sell for millions of U.S. dollars, the modestly priced pleasures of trade ceramics gain more attention by museums. Examples abound inside and outside of Southeast Asia. Jakarta, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, Hong Kong and Japanese museums have collected these wares for decades. In the United States museums are increasingly displaying them. The Los Angeles County Museum and the Seattle Museum of Art have long showcased these wares. The Freer-Sackler Galleries of Art (FSG) in Washington, D.C. last autumn installed its first-ever Vietnamese show. Next year Thai and Cambodia ceramics will be the center piece of a major exhibition at the FSG.

Over the last half-century Southeast Asian and Chinese trade wares have emerged as an important class of ceramics with their own stories and history, a wide number of passionate collectors and connoisseurs, and are increasingly displayed in European, American and Asia museums.

Essay written by
Exhibition Guest Curator David Rehfuss
President of the Washington Oriental Ceramic Group

Select bibliography of works used in the preparation of this Exhibition


Addis, J., et al., Jingdezhen Wares: The Yuan Evolution (exhibition catalogue), Hong Kong: The Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1984.

Adhyatman, S., Antique Ceramics Found in Indonesia, Jakarta: Himpunan Keramik Indonesia, 1981.

_______ and Ridho. A., Martavans, 2nd ed., Jakarta: Himpunan Keramik Indonesia, 1984.

________ , Kendi, Jakarta: Himpunan Keramik Indonesia, 1987.

_______, and Rehfuss, D., Japanese Porcelain from the Seventeenth Century Found in Indonesia, 2nd printing, Jakarta: Himpunan Keramik Indonesia, 1988.

Ayers, J., et al., Porcelain for Palaces: The Fashion for Japan in Europe 1650-1750, London: Oriental Ceramic Society, 1990.

Brown, Roxanna, The Ceramics of South-East Asia: Their Dating and Identification, 2nd ed., Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1988.

____________ , ed., Guangdong Ceramics from Butuan and Other Philippine sites, Manila: Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, 1989.

Bui Minh Tri and Nguyen-Long, K., Vietnamese Blue & White Ceramics, Hanoi: Social Sciences Publishing House, 2001.

Chen, J, et al., Porcelain Stories From China to Europe, Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 2000.

Chien, Nguyen Dinh and Quan, Pham Quoc, Vietnamese Brown Patterned Ceramics, Hanoi: National Museum of Vietnamese History, 2005.

_________________ , The Ca Mau Shipwreck: 1723-1735, Hanoi: The National Museum of Vietnamese History, 2002.

Chin, Lucas, Ceramics in the Sarawak Museum, Kuching: Sarawak Museum, 1988.

Cort, L., et al., Thai Ceramics: The James and Elaine Connell Collection/Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Daendels, H. A., Japanese Blue and White made to order for the Dutch, (exhibition catalogue), Leeuwarden: Museum Het Princessehof, 1981.

Dehua Wares, Hong Kong: Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong, 1990.

Diem, A., et al., Chinese and Southeast Asian Greenwares Found in the Philippines, Manila: Oriental Ceramic Society of the Philippines, 1991.

Dofflemeyer, V., Southeast Asian Ceramics from the Collection of Margot and Hans Ries, Pasadena: Pacific Asian Museum, 1989.

Donnelly, P.J., Blanc de Chine, New York: Frederick Praeger, 1969.

Fang, J.P., et al, Treasures of the Chinese Scholar, New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill, 1997.

Fitzgerald, C.P., The Southern Expansion of the Chinese People, New York: Praeger, 1972.

Frasche, D., Southeast Asian Ceramics: Ninth through Seventeenth Centuries, New York: The Asia Society, 1976.

Gittinger, M., Splendid Symbols: Textiles and Tradition in Indonesia, Washington, D.C.: The Textile Museum, 1979.

Gompertz, G. St. G. M., Celadon Wares, London: Faber and Faber, 1968.

Gunter, A., ed., Caravan Kingdoms: Yemen and the Ancient Incense Trade, Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (Smithsonian Institution), 2005.

Guy, J., Oriental Trade Ceramics in Southeast Asia: 10th to 16th Century, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1984.

_____ , Oriental Trade Ceramics in Southeast Asia: Ninth to Sixteenth Centuries, 1986.

_____ , Woven Cargos: Indian Textiles in the East, New York: Thames and Hudson,

Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Hall, D.G.E., A History of South-East Asia, 3rd ed. New York: St Martin's Press, 1968.

Harrison, B., Pusaka: Heirloom Jars of Borneo, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1986.

______________ , Oriental Celadon, Leeuwarden: Museum het Princesshof, 1978.

______________ , Swatow, Leeuwarden: Museum het Princesshof, 1979.

______________ , Later Ceramics in Southeast Asia Sixteenth to Twentieth Centuries, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Heimann, J., The Most Offending Soul Alive: Tom Harrisson and His Remarkable Life, Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1999.

Hill, A., Merchants and Migrants: Ethnicity and Trade among Yunnanese Chinese in Southeast Asia. Monograph 47/Yale Southeast Asia Studies.

Itoi, K., Thai Ceramics from the Sosai Collection, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1989.

Jenyns, S., Japanese Porcelain, London: Faber and Faber, 1979.

Jorg, C.J.A., Fine and Curious--Japanese Export Porcelain in Dutch Collections, Amsterdam: Hotei Publishing, 2003.

Khoo, J., ed., Art and Archaeology of Fu Nan, Singapore: The Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, 2005.

Khoo, Joo Ee, Kendi: Pouring Vessels in the University of Malaya Collection, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Kuo, J, ed., The Helen D. Ling Collection of Chinese Ceramics. College Park: University of Maryland, 1995.

Lammers, C. and Ridho, A., Annamese Ceramics in the Museum Pusat Jakarta, Jakarta: Himpunan Keramik Indonesia, 1974.

Locsin, L and C., Oriental Ceramics Discovered in the Philippines, Rutland, Vermont and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co., 1967.

Low, C., "Sawankoloke-Sukhothai Wares from the Empress Place Site, Singapore", The Heritage Journal, Vol. 1 No.1 (2004).

Lunde, Paul, "The Indian Ocean and Global Trade", Saudi Aramco World, Vol. 56, No 4, (2005).

Martin, J., et al., A Ceramic Legacy of Asia's Maritime Trade, Kuala Lumpur: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society, West Malaysia Chapter, 1985.

McGill, F., ed., The Kingdom of Siam: The Art of Central Thailand, 1350-1800, San Francisco: Asian Art Museum, 2005.

Medley, M., A Handbook of Chinese Art, London: G. Bell and Sons, 1964.

_________ , Yuan Porcelain and Stoneware, London: Faber and Faber, 1974.

Mimmanahaeminda, K., Sankampaeng Glazed Pottery. Chiang Mai: The Konmaung Publishing Co., 1960.

Pariwat, T, et al., Ceramic Art in Thailand, 2nd ed., Bangkok: Osotspa Co. 1996.

Piriya Krairiksh, "Khmer Ruins in Thailand", Orientations, Vol. 12, No. 12, December 1981.

Pope, J.A., Fourteenth Century Blue-and-White: A Group of Chinese Porcelains in the Topkapu Sarayi Muzesi, Istanbul, Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1952.

________ , Chinese Porcelain From the Ardebil Shrine, Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1956.

Rawson, J., ed., The British Museum Book of Chinese Art, London: British Museum Press, 1992.

Rehfuss, D., "Report on the Third Asian Ceramic Conference", Orientations, Vol. 30, No. 4, May 1999.

Richards, D., Thai Ceramics: Ban Chiang, Khmer, Sukhothai, Sawankhalok Ceramics, Adelaide: Art Gallery of South Australia, 1977.

Rinaldi, M, Kraak Porcelain, London: Bamboo Publishing, 1989.

Schaefer, E. H., The Vermilion Bird: T'ang Images of the South, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1967.

Shaw, John, Northern Thai Ceramics, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1981.

_________ , Introducing Thai Ceramics: Also Burmese and Khmer, Chiang Mai: Duangphorn Kemasingki, 1987.

Southeast Asian and Early Chinese Export Ceramics (exhibition catalogue), London: William Sorsby, Ltd, 1974.

Spinks, C.N., The Ceramic Wares of Siam, Bangkok: The Siam Society, 1965.

Stevenson, J. and Guy, J., Vietnamese Ceramics: A Separate Tradition, Chicago: Art Media Resources, 1997.

Till, B., Ceramics of Mainland Southeast Asia (exhibition catalogue), Victoria: Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, 1988.

Tingley, N., Doris Duke: The Southeast Asian Art Collection, New York: The Foundation for Southeast Asian Art and Culture, 2003.

Treasures from the Hoi An Hoard (sales catalogue): San Francisco: Butterfields Auctioneers, 2000.

Valdes, C., et al., A Thousand Years of Stoneware Jars in the Philippines, Manila: Jar Collectors (Philippines), 1992.

Van der Pijl-Ketel, C.L., ed., The Ceramic Load of the Witte Leeuw (1613), Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum), 1982.

Van Orsay de Flines, E. W., Guide to the Ceramic Collection (Foreign Ceramics), Jakarta: Museum Pusat, 1969.

Volker, T., Porcelain and the Dutch East India Company, Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1954.

Wells, Tony, Shipwrecks and Sunken Treasure in Southeast Asia, Singapore: Times Editions, 1995.

Woodward, Hiram, et al, The Sacred Sculpture of Thailand, Baltimore: Walters Art Museum, 1997.

Wyatt, David, 'Relics, oaths and politics in thirteenth-century Siam', Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, 32 (1), February 2001.

Willetts, W., Ceramic Art of Southeast Asia, Singapore: The Southeast Asia Ceramic Society, 1971.

_________ and Lim, S.P., Nonya Ware and Kitchen Ch'ing, Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, 1981.

Yoji, A., and Gakuji, H., ed., Champa Ceramics: Production and Trade, Tokyo: The Study Group of Go Sanh Kiln Sites in Central Vietnam, 2002.

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