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The Star

Sunday July 04, 2004


Keris, porcelain recovered from 400-year-old wreck

BY K. SUTHAKAR. DUNGUN : A long keris has been recovered from an estimated 400-year-old wrecked ship laden with Ming-era porcelain in waters off Kuala Dungun here. 

The wreck was discovered about five nautical miles off Kuala Dungun at a depth of 40m in June last year. 

“The keris is a mysterious find,” said Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim who visited the site of the wreck here yesterday. 

HISTORICAL ARTEFACT : Salvage crew recovering a cannon from the 400-year-old shipwreck off Kuala Dungun, Terengganu, yesterday.

He said the ship was believed to be owned by a Western maritime power although the cargo was from China.   

“The keris could have belonged to a Malay who was hired by the ship owner to help navigate the South China Sea or a gift from a Malay dignitary from the region,” he said. 

Department director-general Datuk Dr Adi Taha believed the ship belonged to the Portuguese and was heading from China to either Johor, Malacca or Batavia (present-day Jakarta). 

He said this was based on the discovery of two broken pieces of a square porcelain bottle with the Portuguese coat-of-arms painted in cobalt blue. 

He said the information was provided by Sten Sjostrand, the principal researcher of Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn Bhd, which is excavating the shipwreck with co-operation from the department. 

Dr Adi said the porcelain was manufactured during the later part of the Ming dynasty. 

He said some of the porcelain pieces were made at the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen while other plates and bowls were made at Zhangzhou. 

Some of the bowls showed the reign mark of Emperor Chenghua (1465-1487), and some others showed the reign mark of Emperor Chia-ching (1522-1566).


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