An illustrated lecture by Roxanna M. Brown, Ph.D., Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, Bangkok University
The term ‘Ming gap’ was introduced by Tom Harrisson in 1958 in reference to Sarawak River delta sites that offered an abundance of Song dynasty ceramics but none that could be assigned to the Ming dynasty. Over time, it came to refer informally to the unproven idea that no Chinese blue and white ceramic ware was exported to Southeast Asia for most of the 15th century. A series of shipwrecks excavated since 1974 finally offers new evidence on Asian trade and ceramics in the 15th century. This talk will explain three aspects of the Ming gap: first, a near absence of the particular blue and white Chinese ceramics for more than a century (c1352-1487); second, a drop in all Chinese ceramic exports from 100% to 30-50% in the early Ming years (c.1368-1424/30), and third, a further drop to only 1-5% immediately following the Zheng He voyages. The Mac gap (in reference to the Mac dynasty of Vietnam) is a characteristic of the 16th century. After massive exports in the decades of about 1470-1510, Vietnamese ceramics abruptly disappear from shipwrecks sometime about 1510-1520. The talk will be illustrated with trade ceramics from ten shipwrecks that cover the period circa 1380-1580.
Roxanna M. Brown received her PhD from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in January 2004. She completed a major in art history, and minor in Southeast Asian general history. Her dissertation was entitled "The Ming Gap and Shipwreck Ceramics in Southeast Asia." She is Director of the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum, which was recently established at the Rangsit campus of Bangkok University. Dr. Brown is probably best known for her book The Ceramics of South-East Asia, Their Dating and Identification (1977). More recently she co-authored the catalogue for a major exhibition of shipwrecks off Malaysia that opened at the National Museum, Kuala Lumpur in late 2001, Roxanna M. Brown and Sten Sjostrand, Maritime Archaeology and Shipwreck Ceramics in Malaysia (2002).
Cost: Free and open to the public