China Culture | Tang Treasures from Arabic shipwreck are on display at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto

China Culture | Tang Treasures from Arabic shipwreck are on display at the Aga Khan Museum, Toronto
A porcelain dish salvaged from the shipwreck

An exhibition of Tang treasures from a 1,200-year-old Arabic shipwreck opened in December at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Canada. The exhibit, done in cooperation with Singapore, runs until April 26. The exhibition features hundreds of relics from the Tang Dynasty and uncovers a story from the Maritime Silk Road that was hidden for a long time.

In the 1990s, a fisherman found many ceramics when he was fishing for sea cucumbers near the coast of Belitung Island, Indonesia.

A German salvage company excavated the relics for one year after a wreck the ceramics came from was proved to be an ancient Arabian dhow called Batu Hitam, which sailed a route between Africa and China.

Tens of thousands of ancient porcelain, gold and silver wares and bronze mirrors were discovered during the salvage operation. The Arabian dhow offers a new insight into the trade routes between China and the Middle East during that period, and is seen as one proof of the Maritime Silk Road.

Since 2002 several Chinese museums have asked to buy these Chinese relics from Indonesia and the salvage companies, but haven’t succeeded. In 2005, a Singapore company acquired the treasures for more than $30 million. Since then, these treasures from the Tang Dynasty have been kept in Singapore.

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