Shipwrecked Ceramics

How stunning is this piece of shipwrecked ceramic from the V&A collection?


Fused spittoon, tea bowls and vase neck, Jingdezhen, China, about 1725 (source)

Unearthed in 1998 alongside 130,000 other ceramic pieces in the wreck of a international trade ship near Ca Mau, southernVietnam, this 18th century piece has a real organic beauty and a wonderful sense of narrative. Frilled with coral and fused with number of smaller pieces, the spittoon vessel looks as if it collapsed and grew all at once.

Indeed, the overgrown, almost post-melted-ice-caps-apocalypse feel is very The Drowned World. Can anyone else see this piece fitting in perfectly in the drowned homes and theatres of Ballard’s tropical, crystal water-logged world?

This piece also looks remarkably like a natural version of this beauty of waster ceramic, also from the V&A


Waster of 34 dishes fused together, Delft, Netherlands, about 1640-60 (source)

From the V&A’s blurb:

These dishes fused together when the saggar (protective box in which they were fired) collapsed. Attached to the plates are fragments of the pins that supported them in the saggar.

What’s that old adage about creation coming from destruction? Perhaps sometimes both man-made and natural disasters can produce some truly beautiful objects.