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China’s plan for a commercial port at Luang Prabang

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Asia Times, 16 May 2017: A proposed Chinese plan to develop Luang Prabang into a commercial port that can accommodate 500-ton cargo ships has severe repercussions for the environment and cultural status of the World Heritage site.

China’s plan for the Mekong River envisions a big new commercial port at Luang Prabang, a United Nations designated World Heritage site and heart of the Lao tourism industry

Source: Lao cultural treasure faces river trade dilemma | Asia Times

The ceramics museum just north of Bangkok

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The Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum. Source: Bangkok Post, 20150716

The Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum in Bangkok University (which is not technically in Bangkok but north of it) is a great place to look at a spectacular ceramics collection.

The Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum. Source: Bangkok Post, 20150716

The Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum. Source: Bangkok Post, 20150716

History of Asian ceramics
Bangkok Post, 16 July 2015

Our van entered the Rangsit campus of Bangkok University and stopped in front of a sign for the Southeast Asian Ceramics Museum. After walking down a slight slope, the museum is revealed to resemble a partially underground kiln. Founded in 2000 and opened to the public in 2005, the museum is home to over 16,000 ancient ceramics donated by university founder Surat Osathanugrah. About 2,000 of these items are on view at the current exhibition.

After strolling past the model of a northern-style cross-draft kiln and showing our Muse Pass, we entered the museum that has just reopened after the post-flood renovations. The permanent exhibition highlights the development of Southeast Asian ceramics, especially those from major kiln sites in Thailand, as well as the history of Thai and other Southeast Asian trade ceramics based on evidence found at shipwreck sites in this region.

The display of different ceramics on the sand caught our eyes. The first space reflects that pottery found at archaeological sites dating from 1380-1430 had been from all across Southeast Asia, including Thailand (Si Satchanalai, Sukhothai and San Kamphaeng kiln sites), Vietnam and China. At the time, the Chinese traded ceramics of celadon and brown-glazed wares, but there was no blue and white wares at all.

The second space shows trade ceramics from Thailand, Vietnam, China and Myanmar, which date back to 1488-1505 and were commonly found on shipwrecks. The third space displays artefacts from a period of competition between Thai and Chinese ceramics from 1520-1560. Thai kilns in Sukhothai and Si Satchanalai produced large numbers of underglaze black ware, a competitor to the Chinese blue and white ware.

Full story here.

Public Lecture: Non-traders from South Asia in the Malay World

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Readers in Singapore might be interested in catching this lecture by Daniel Perret from EFEO, which deals with India-Southeast Asia interactions – without the lenses of Indianisation or trade. Registration is required.

Non-traders from South Asia in the Malay World (end of 13th – end of 17th century)
Asian Civilisations Museum
09 November, 7-8.30pm
Details and registration here.
The occurrence of sea travels and migrations from South Asia towards the Malay world is documented through at least the last two millennia. Until now, two major themes have dominated the historiography of the early interactions between these two regions, namely Indianisation and trade. This lecture presents the initial phase of a research on another aspect of these interactions, since it involves non-traders of South Asia who visited and sometimes settled in the Malay world. Contrary to the near silence of the South Asian sources on this issue, European archives, travel reports, numerous and recent historical studies on the sultanates of Samudra-Pasai, Melaka, Aceh and Banten may help to get a clearer vision of the place and role of these individuals and communities in the history of the region.

Nan'ao-1 gives insight to ancient black market trade

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Despite a trade ban in the 16th century, salvage from the Nan’ao-1 off Shantou City reveals that there was a healthy demand for Chinese export goods, leading ships to engage in illegal trade for profit.

Ancient ship gives up hoard of rare porcelain
Xinhua, via the Shanghai Daily, 03 May 2010
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Bronze Buddha stolen from Palembang museum; thieves captured

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The police moved quickly to apprehend a gang of four behind the theft of a Bronze Buddha statue from a museum in Palembang. One of the thieves was shot in the leg while trying to resist arrest. Ouch.

S. Sumatra Police question museum employees over missing Buddha statue
Jakarta Post, 13 March 2009

South Sumatra police nabs Buddhist artifact thieves
Jakarta Post, 15 March 2009
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Finding gold in Bantayan

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13 September 2007 (Cebu Daily News) – With stories like these, one gets the impression that there is a lot of undiscovered archaeological potential in the Philippine islands that have yet to be surveyed, excavated and recovered. In this piece, the author writes about how archaeological material – prehispanic material culture as well as trade ceramics – have been recovered in the town of Bantayan, in Cebu. A map attached here to give you a sense of the geography of the place.

Bantayan Map
click here to go to this googlemap.

Finding gold in Bantayan
By Joeber Bersales

If I had even just 5 percent or P35 million of the P700 million that Erap Estrada was convicted yesterday of plundering from the nation, I will immediately spend P30 million to buy and repair the only remaining tile-roofed trading house in Bantayan—one of three houses built by the legendary Manuel ‘Capitan Tawi’ Rubio at the height of his wealth in the 1850s. I will use the remaining P5 million to carry out a systematic archaeological study of this island as well as of the entire island of Cebu.

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