Q. What are Chinese ceramics? Compare two ceramics found on a shipwreck.
Shipwrecks which remain untouched on the ocean floor for centuries yield significant traces on China’s ceramic evolution and the maritime trade between the major empires, Abbasid Iraq and Tang China. Although there are reports of Chinese ships reaching West Asia in the ninth century, it suggests that these applied more to the cargoes than to the vessels; Chinese ships of this period have not been discovered in the seas of Southeast Asia. The Belitung wreck, however, provides the first physical evidence of the “long-held belief that Perso-Arab vessels carried the China trade”. Discovered in 1988 near the western shore of Belitung Island in the Java Sea, the shipwreck is an Arab dhow filled with some 60,000 pieces of Tang dynasty ceramics from a number of different kilns. The retrieval of these various artefacts reveals a development of the pottery’s manufacturing techniques, further suggesting that they were export items made to order. For instance, the Gongxian kiln had applied green splashes on their ewer to appeal to the Middle East clients while the Changsha kiln had produced Arabic scripts and geometric patterns on their bowls. Despite the different techniques of the kilns, trade with the Middle East had affected the Chinese ceramics’ domestic production through the usage of colours, motifs and composition.
The choice of colours plays an important role when designing for a consumer to help create and communicate the meaning of a culture. The huge dragon-headed ewer of the Gongxian kiln produces splashes of green glaze on its white surface. Although other colours can still be used for this technique, the Middle East customers are more keen to the colour which symbolises Islam. Similarly, the bowl of the Changsha kiln (Fig. 1) features green and brown painting on the interior with brown patches on its edge that form a square frame. Due to the rounded rim of the bowl, the painted rims also creates an impression of crescents. These are iconic elements of the Islamic composition where there must be a devoid of figurative images as geometric patterns and crescent shapes are used instead. Regardless of the difference in techniques by the two kilns, the culture of the Middle East influences how Chinese potters decorates their ceramics, resulting to the creation of a new product during that period.
<Paragraph 3 : Comparing the designs/motifs & composition>
 Regina Krahl, “Two Empires,” in Shipwrecked: Tang Treasured and Monsoon Winds, ed. Regina Krahl et. al (Washington, D.C.: Arthur M.Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution et. al, 2011), 4.
 Michael Flecker, “A Ninth-century AD Arab or Indian Shipwreck in Indonesia: First Evidence for Direct Trade with China,” World Archaeology 32 (3). Taylor & Francis, Ltd.: 335.
 “Symbolism in Islamic Art,” The David Collection, accessed March 9, 2016, https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/cultural-history-themes/symbolism
Flecker, Michael. 2001. “A Ninth-century AD Arab or Indian Shipwreck in Indonesia: First Evidence for Direct Trade with China”. World Archaeology 32 (3). Taylor & Francis, Ltd.: 335–54. http://www.jstor.org.ezlibproxy1.ntu.edu.sg/stable/827926.
Krahl, Regina. Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds. Edited by John Guy, J. Keith Wilson and Julian Raby. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Singapore: National Heritage Board; Singapore: Singapore Tourism Board, 2011.
The David Collection. “Symbolism in Islamic Art.” Accessed March 9, 2016. https://www.davidmus.dk/en/collections/islamic/cultural-history-themes/symbolism
Fig. 1 Arthur M. Sackler Gallery. 2011. Monumental ewer with incised floral lozenges and clouds. Glazed stoneware with copper-green splashes over white slip. Washington, D.C.: Arthur M. Sackler gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Singapore: National Heritage Board; Singapore Tourism Board, 2011.
Fig. 2 Koh, NK. 2012. Tang Changsha bowl with arabic inscription from the Belitung shipwreck. Singapore: Koh Antique. http://www.koh-antique.com/changsha/changshamain.html
3 thoughts on “[Art History II] Research Paper : Introduction & Paragraph”
Excellent funnel-shaped introduction!
Do you need the sentence on Chinese ships? Is has little to do with your main point.
I believe this is your thesis and plan: “Despite the different techniques of the kilns, trade with the Middle East had affected the Chinese ceramics’ domestic production through the usage of colours, motifs and composition.”
The first part of the sentence is about similarities, while the second part of the sentence is about differences.
So, will you have a paragraph about the different techniques before you discuss the color, motifs, and composition?
You have provided a lovely paragraph with a point! It has a topic sentence, visual analysis, contextual analysis, footnotes, and a concluding sentence.
Will the next paragraph then be about the color, motifs, and composition of the Changsha bowls?
In that case, do you want to discuss the different techniques in the introduction? Or, have a separate paragraph for differences?
Thank you so much the feedbacks, Prof. Perhaps I should discuss on the different techniques first, probably a paragraph after the introduction. Then, I will proceed with the Middle East elements on the bowl and ewer through colors, motifs and composition. I think the paper flows better that way. Thank you for the suggestions, I will work on them further.
How is the paper Dina?
Introduction: need dates for Tang dynasty.
Perhaps you can include a sentence or two about the different types of objects and ceramics discovered on the shipwreck? Then, focus on your two objects?
Thesis: “Despite the different techniques of the kilns, trade with the Middle East had affected the Chinese ceramics’ domestic production through the usage of colours, motifs and composition.”
Let’s edit this to phrase it as a comparison:
Despite the different techniques used at the two kilns, the similar colours, motifs, and compositions of the bowls show that trade with the Middle East impacted Chinese ceramic production.
“So, what?” What is significant about your idea? What is the point of discovering this?