Massive exhibition shows Sinan shipwreck treasures

Ever wondered what treasures from a 14th century
sunken trove look like? Well, wonder no more. Relics from a wrecked merchant ship from the
14th century off the Sinan coast are on display at the national museum in downtown Seoul…
marking the 40th anniversary of the excavation. Our Lee Jiwon gives us a glimpse of the “Discoveries
from the Sinan Shipwreck” on our Culture Spot tonight. Korean divers plunged into waters off the
southwestern coast back in 1979 on the country’s first underwater treasure hunt. It was the first of many expeditions to pull
up a trove of artifacts from a ship that had met its end… 652 years before. Now, the relics are part of a massive exhibition
at the National Museum of Korea… commemorating the 40th anniversary of the excavation. The relics are from a sunken Chinese ship
that was discovered in 1975, when a Korean fisherman pulled up six pieces of porcelain
and celadon from the vessel. After close study and analysis, Korea’s Cultural
Properties Management Bureau determined the merchant vessel,… loaded with Chinese porcelain,
coins and other goods,… had embarked from China’s Qingyuan prefecture, in what is now
Ningbo, in June 1323… on its way to Japan. It headed north on the marine trade route
that had been established by Asian nations in the 14th century. But it is presumed to have met a typhoon along
the way… and sank off of Sinan County, in present-day Jeollanam-do Province. “This is the actual size of the bow, giving
visitors an idea of just how big the vessel would have had to be to have carried 24-thousand
pieces of porcelain and other goods.” The artifacts recovered from the ship range
from clay figurines to celadon dishes, basins and other ceramic goods. The ship also carried a cargo of spices, herbal
medicines and lacquerware, reflecting the products and practices of the 14th century. “The artifacts show the nature of the cultural
exchanges between China, Japan and other Asian nations through trade. Visitors can see that the people in the 14th
century enjoyed tea, flower and incense,… and that members of the upper-class especially
liked celadon dishes and metalware.” But among the thousands of pieces in the collection,
this celadon vase is one to admire. It’s similar to other pieces made for Chinese
emperors, both in color and style. The two handles are shaped like dragons that
represent emperors,… and archaeologists say it would have been handled with great
care. The ship also had a large cargo of Goryeo
celadon from the Korean kingdom in power at the time. Archaeologists suggest the pieces, designed
in the 13th century Goryeo style, had been sold in China and were going to be exchanged
to Japan. Many of the ceramics have engraved flower
patterns, showing the exquisite techniques of the era. Until now, the artifacts had been scattered
at different museums around the country. But the National Museum of Korea brought them
together in what is the largest-ever display of Sinan artifacts. It’s also the museum’s largest exhibition
to date. “I came here with my children to show the
precious treasures our country has preserved. There are so many antiques, and I hope my
children have learned a lot.” “Through the tiny details in each of the ceramic
pieces, I was able to see what the culture and trends back then were like.” The museum and archaeologists hope that the
exhibition will serve as a turning point for the future of underwater archaeology and shipwreck
research in the country, as well as the preservation of Korea’s ancient treasures. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News.

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