In “Secrets of The Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia,” running through June 4 at the Asia Society Museum, 78 choice artifacts conjure trade on the flourishing maritime silk route that extended from the Abbasid caliphate to the Tang empire in the Ninth Century. As it turns out, active trading had been underway centuries before the Portuguese had arrived in search of goods and spices.
Curator Adrianna Proser hopes visitors will find the show intriguing, not only for its treasures but for its exploration “of the level of activity and exchange and trade that was crossing a large segment of the world so much earlier than people realized.”
Some of the gold and ceramics from the Belitung Shipwreck are now at the Asian Civilisations Museum in a small exhibition featuring some of the more spectacular pieces – and some that were not exhibited before.
The famed Tang Treasures recovered from the Belitung Shipwreck are now being displayed to the public (for the first time, I believe) at the new ArtScience Museum in Singapore. The wreck, which was excavated slightly over a decade ago is unique for the quantity of the artefacts recovered and its unusual context: primarily Chinese cargo in what is essentially a Arab-style boat. This editorial from Wreck Watch discusses the excavation and display of the Tang Treasures in the larger treasure-hunting and public interest context.
The treasures from the Belitung Shipwreck will be exhibited internationally for the first time, starting with Singapore later this year, and in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution in 2012.