Ancient Chinese 'export-quality porcelain' discovered in Mexico's Acapulco port

Source:Xinhua Published: 2016/10/15 15:29:10 Last Updated: 2016/10/15 15:29:40



A new archaeological find announced on Friday in Mexico attests to China's age-old vocation as an exporting powerhouse.

Mexican archaeologists have uncovered thousands of fragments of a 400-year-old shipment of Chinese "export-quality porcelain" that was long buried in the Pacific Coast port of Acapulco.

The shipment of rice bowls, cups, plates and platters dates from the reign of the Ming Dynasty's 13th emperor, Wanli (1572-1620), and is believed to have arrived in Acapulco aboard the China Galleon, which regularly sailed between Asia and the New World.

"During its 250 years of cabotage along the coasts of the Pacific in the Americas, the China Galleon left an indelible trail," Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), said in reporting on the find.

In an on-site interview posted on INAH's website, archaeologist Roberto Junco said "we discovered there were four or five models or styles ... characteristic of a type of ... export-quality porcelain that the Chinese made, mainly in the factories of Jingdezhen, and exported around the world."

According to Junco, the white-and-blue porcelain, painted with images of birds, beetles, swans, ducks, deer and other depictions of nature, was made in Zhangzhou, capital of south-central Fujian province, and Jingdezhen, in Jiangxi province, which is known as China's "Porcelain Capital."

The find, located no more than a meter and a half below ground near Acapulco's Cathedral, in what is known as the Old Quarter, included fragments of a coarser type of ceramic used to make containers for shipping provisions, such as spices and liquids.

Mexico's ports were often targeted by pirates, which could explain why the shipment appears to have been destroyed.

The discovery coincides with an exhibit at Mexico City's Franz Mayer Museum called "Return Voyage: The China Galleon and the Baroque in Mexico," which highlights China's artistic influence on the New World through trade.

While Mexico and China are separated by a great distance, trade ties have linked the two regions for centuries.

The China Galleon regularly sailed between Acapulco, and other Mexican ports, and Manila, in the Philippines, and today's Taiwan, China where it would load up on Chinese spices and silks, and other goods.

Fabricio Antonio Fonseca, a researcher at the prestigious Colegio de Mexico, says the initial encounter between Mexico and China occurred when the galleon first sailed into a Mexican port.

The discovery of new maritime routes linking Asia, the New World and Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries launched an era of unprecedented global trade and cultural exchange.

Evidence even shows that starting in 1565, the return trips to Mexico were manned by Chinese crews, said Fonseca.

Posted in: Discovery

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