Reflection – Weekly Presentation

Researching about ivories in the Philippines has been eye-opening. Art in the Philippines seemed like a topic that was avoided in SEA art history – perhaps because it did not fit into the syllabus – but it did seem strange to leave out the Philippines when talking about South East Asia.

Through this presentation, I set out for myself to learn how art developed in that country through visual and contextual analysis. A big debate was about whether their religious ivory art has strong influences from its own country or was the Philippines merely a mass producer of these objects. From my research, it was hard to pinpoint styles or techniques that could be linked between traditional Filipino art and the ivories. That’s a debate not meant for a short reflection.

I really enjoyed pondering over these thoughts. Someone from the class claims that the Santos are Filipino art,  but the style and techniques come from elsewhere. Rather, from what was said, the Filipinos tend to favor the Santos more than other cultures, so perhaps that is what gives them a sense of ownership over the Santos.

The Philippines has a long history of colonialism, rebellions, and wars. It would be interesting to learn more about what types of art came out of that period – maybe poems?

Reflection – FINAL PROJECT

I have learned a lot more about blue-and-white wares, and have become more aware of the way museums are run, over the course of this project. First of all, thinking about how museums artifacts can be arranged gave me insight into how artifacts don’t really stand alone – artifacts usually have some form of connection to each other, either across time or through cultural interactions. Because this was a gradual realization, it was especially difficult to decide on our four objects and how they might be related. What if we had chosen some objects that just could not be related to each other? We decided to play it safe by choosing 4 blue-and-white wares because they were already similar in style.

It got challenging when we were trying to figure out what was expected of us. At first, I thought that we were going to create a room with the four artifacts we had chosen but then we were told to relate our objects to the blue-and-white room at the ACM. It was a challenge because the objects we had chosen were 4 unique blue-and-white wares and we wanted to focus on their uniqueness from the rest. That was my mistake because then it belittles the other blue-and-white wares in the exhibit (again, I thought that we only had to worry about our 4 objects). The blue-and-white wares in the ACM all have a story to tell and it would be foolish to attempt that through 4 very different blue-and-white wares. Through our observations, we realized that our objects all had influences from different parts of the world, which got us thinking about how cultures mixed around in the past. It just so happened that secondary school students have a topic on globalization in their syllabus of Social Studies, which gave us a target audience to set on.

From there we faced our 2nd challenge – engaging secondary school students. As much as it is a stereotype, most secondary school students would have no interest in museums if not for being a field trip location. What we hoped to achieve was to ‘wow’ them with stunning illustrations and visuals with minimal text-based information to distance ourselves from school textbooks.

The 3rd challenge was mainly for me. I’m bad with design. I would not trust myself with it. Furthermore, I did not have the software to do it so I had to use the school computers when there were no ongoing classes. It was an entirely tedious process for me. Still, eventually, it was completed. I appreciate what museums do with their brochures more now, especially the somewhat recent Angkor Wat/Cambodia exhibit’s booklet. There were many entertaining and interactive activities that must have taken a lot of talent and hard work.

Week 10: Contextual analysis

Attached is the contextual analysis for the 9th CE Tang blue-and-white stoneware.


Contextual Analysis

This blue-and-white ware was made in China, probably Gongxian kilns, ca 830s
Stoneware, diameter 23 cm

9th Century Potters in both China and West Asia contributed to the ninth-century creation of the earliest known blue-and-white ceramics. It is a combination of China’s superior ceramics technology with the unique cobalt blue glaze of Iran.

Initially, Near Eastern traders of China shipped white stonewares and porcelain to West Asia where they attempted to copy them. They attempted to cover their earthenwares with a white tin glaze but did not achieve the same quality as the original. However, it is through this that they began decorating their new white wares with their cobalt blue glaze. Again, the means by which they were applying the blue glaze resulted in a less than stellar final product.

The earliest known blue-and-white stonewares were created as a result of the interaction between China and West Asia in the 9th century. The blue-and-white ceramics of the Belitung Shipwreck were painted with a blue glaze. The practice of painting with cobalt blue seems to have started with Basran potters. Despite being made in China, they used cobalt blue glaze that had likely been mined in Iran, which shows the level of globalisation already happening during the 9th century.

The Gongxian potters painted a lozenge pattern with flowers in the centre of it. This design appears on a variety of objects bound for the Abbasid, where the design originally developed. The lozenge motif is a design favoured in the Middle East, which again, shows the connection between China and the Middle East. It also possibly means that the Chinese were trying to create these plates for the Middle Eastern market which was the Abbasid Empire that includes modern-day Iran, Iraq, and the surrounding regions.

The blue-and-white dishes discovered with the ship are the first and earliest complete Chinese blue-and-white ceramics known to exist to date. This gives us insight into the birth of blue-and-white Chinese ceramics and its subsequent popularity among in the world – inspiring others to try to copy and eventually succeeding in achieving a similar quality.

While the blue-and-white stonewares of Gongxian kilns have been claimed to be the earliest examples of the design, it is only in the Jingdezhen kilns where blue-and-white porcelains really took off which then inspired the imitations and rush to create others of similar quality.


“Blue-and-White Dish.” Asian Civilisations Museum. Accessed November 1, 2018.

Krahl, Regina. “Tang Blue-and-White.” In Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures And Monsoon Winds. Edited by Regina Krahl, John Guy, J. Keith Wilson, and Julian Raby. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Singapore: National Heritage Board, Singapore Tourism Board, 2011.)

“The Cargo: Blue-and-White Ceramics from the Gongxian Kilns.” Asia Society. Accessed November 1, 2018.

Zhu, Feng and Jie Shao. “The Origin Of Blue-And-White And The Birth Of
Symbols.” Asian Social Science 5, no. 5 (2009): 77-81. Accessed April 1,