Over 2,000 years ago, our ancestors sailed their boats across the ocean and established the Maritime Silk Road that linked the East and the West, writing a new chapter in the history of human development and progress and opening a new window for friendly exchanges between countries.
The Maritime Silk Road, the sea route for foreign trade and cultural exchanges in ancient China, took its initial shape in the Qin and Han dynasties. Since the mid- to late Tang dynasty, ceramics had become commodities exported in great quantities, which ushered in the golden era of Chinese export porcelain. In the Song and Yuan dynasties, the sea trade of ceramics flourished, international ports located in cities such as Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Mingzhou (today’s Ningbo of Zhejiang Province) were set up one after another, and a ceramics trading system dominated by China was gradually established. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, as new sea routes were opened, countless Chinese ceramics were exported to Europe and North America, which promoted the formation and development of early trade globalization.
The exhibition is divided into three parts, "Endless shores: Maritime Trade of Ceramics in the Tang and Five dynasties," "Expansive waves: Maritime Trade of Ceramics in the Song and Yuan dynasties," and "Sea of sails: Maritime Trade of Ceramics in the Ming and Qing dynasties." We have selected 294 ceramics and other cultural relics from the shipwrecks and sea trade along the Maritime Silk Road, together with important ruins, archaeological data of shipwrecks and related research findings. These artifacts depict the flourishing sea trade of ancient Chinese ceramics from the Tang and Five dynasties to the Ming and Qing dynasties, show China’s leading role in the global ceramics trading system, and reveal the constant deepening of cultural exchanges and friendly communications between China and the world based on maritime trade.
Curator: Chen Chengjun
Content design: Gu Zhiyang
Exhibition layout & design: Liu Yang and Guo Qing
Exhibition services: Su Ning