When Hong Kong was a means station around the Maritime Silk Street - new exhibition showcases recent discoveries about city’s buying and selling previous
Hong Kong is slower than some Chinese ports to trumpet its part inside the heritage of East-West maritime trade, but a completely new exhibition at Hong Kong’s Maritime Museum exhibits the necessity of sites such as Tuen Mun and High Island to historical mariners and is a well timed reminder of the broader gains to culture of trade
Hong Kong’s historic location on China’s symbolic Maritime Silk Road is highlighted inside of a new exhibition on the city’s Maritime Museum.
“We can now verify Tune and Ming dynasty Hong Kong had a transitional position on the Maritime Silk Road in areas like Tuen Mun, Superior Island and penny’s Bay,” suggests Dr Libby Chan Lai-pik, assistant director from the museum.
The exhibition, termed “East Fulfills West: Maritime Silk Routes while in the 13th-18th Centuries”, is co-organised from the Guangdong Museum and runs until November eleven.
The exhibition’s timing is opportune. Beijing has released a major publicity blitz to advertise the benefits of its Belt and Highway Initiative, a improvement plan to mature international trade, and this consists of highlighting the historic silk routes that underpin it.
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Following the evident current cancellation of a few relevant infrastructure projects in Malaysia by primary Minister Mahathir Mohamad, and growing criticism that the progress initiative is a lot more about Chinese hegemony than bilateral exchanges, the historical context in the programme is more crucial than in the past.
“The Maritime Silk Street can be a warm subject matter and people trading routes as well as their affect on today is vital,” Chan says. She adds that while prior related exhibitions for the museum have outlined Hong Kong, none have tried to stamp town firmly around the ancient maritime trading community.
Considering that autumn 2013, when president Xi Jinping initially proposed the Belt and Highway Initiative, coastal cities in China have been clamouring to determine their historic place around the Maritime Silk Street.
Authorities in port metropolitan areas these as Quanzhou, Guangzhou, Xiamen and Ningbo determine that by setting up their historic qualifications, they could get recognition as essential details on the modern-day initiative, and in transform obtain a share of your US$60 billion of opportunity expenditure and curry favour in Beijing.
Hong Kong continues to be much more reticent. When there is no shortage of enthusiasm between the company elite to the economic great things about the initiative’s infrastructure and connectivity projects, the historical context that encouraged Xi’s grand eyesight is lacking.
The third Belt and Highway Summit, held in Hong Kong this summer season, welcomed some five,000 members from fifty five nations and areas, and involved more than eighty authorities and organization leaders from Hong Kong. Several, even so, talked about historic sailing routes or cultural exchange.
Hong Kong does have its very own Maritime Silk Street Modern society, originated by Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a member in the Executive Council which advises the Hong Kong administration, as well as a member with the city’ s Legislative Council. Its site is full of business initiatives, scholarships and provoking rhetoric, but there's practically nothing in regards to the historical context in the Maritime Silk Highway or Hong Kong’s place on it.
It's got only been feasible to place Hong Kong to the Maritime Silk Highway for a result of recent archaeological discoveries.
In July 2016, Dr Invoice Jeffery, assistant professor of anthropology on the College of Guam and also a exploration affiliate at Hong Kong Maritime Museum, led a team of volunteer diver-archaeologists within the Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Team to recover a 1,000-year-old stone anchor inventory off Substantial Island on the Sai Kung peninsula. It took two decades to conserve the stock for show and it's going to take pleasure of spot at the Maritime Museum exhibition.
“Less than 10 anchors like this one are already uncovered from throughout China,” Chan suggests.
She points out the inventory is about one-third smaller sized than the a person identified along with the 15th-century shipwreck Nanhai No. one, which can be now housed in its own purpose-built museum on Hailing Island in Guangdong province which is generally compared while using the terracotta warriors in terms of archaeological importance.
A lump of previous stone may well not get visitors’ pulses racing, nevertheless the story guiding it'd.
The anchor inventory is from an ocean-going vessel, not a small regional boat. It indicates that 1,000 several years back in the Music dynasty (960-1279), ships plying the Maritime Silk Street - within the time at its top - have been calling at bays all around Large Island en route to Guangzhou, the Gulf of Thailand and over and above.
“Ming dynasty information indicate Superior Island was a sheltered harbour with ample meals and crystal clear h2o, but we'd like extra evidence to determine its importance as being a transit place over the Maritime Silk Highway,” Chan says.
Higher Island was also the placement of Hong Kong’s 1st and only ancient shipwreck. A late Song dynasty or early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) boat was uncovered throughout construction of the Higher Island Reservoir in 1974.
Chan points out that the Sai Kung region 1st appeared in early Ming dynasty information to be a port of phone for tribute (“kung” in Cantonese) for ships within the West (“sai”), suggesting the existence of international ships approaching the much larger ports on the southern China coastline by using precisely what is now Hong Kong.
Salt was the very important regional commodity while in the Song period, not silk.
“A Song dynasty stone in the Tin Hau temple at Fats Tong Mun [by Hong Kong’s Joss property Bay] information a go to of the imperial salt officer and his companion, indicating the salt export company was very vital to this place,” Chan suggests LIU Wu.
Sai Kung as well as northern New Territories were being carefully linked to Chinese administrative centres at Shenzhen and also the Dapeng peninsula very long before any European improvement of Hong Kong Island.
The exhibition also includes a number of things loaned by Hong Kong’s Antiquities and Monuments Office which were being not too long ago excavated with the Sacred Hill North site for the duration of focus on Sung Wong Toi MTR station. Historical residential sites and wells were uncovered indicating considerable settlement in the course of the Tune and Yuan dynasties near what is now the area all around Kai Tak.
Many of the pottery shards excavated with the Sacred Hill site are in the Cizao Kiln in Jinjiang, Fujian province, as well as vital Longquan Kiln in Zhejiang province.
The exhibition implies that these expert ceramics had been imported by sea which jap Hong Kong might need been a significant loading station for ceramics for foreign traders within the Maritime Silk Street.
Scholars have very long recognized in regards to the worth of Hong Kong’s western waters as essential methods on the big investing metropolis of Guangzhou. penny’s Bay, in southern Lantau Island, was excavated in 2010 as part of the new Disneyland development, and unveiled two mass pits of Ming dynasty ceramics.
Tuen Mun in Hong Kong’s western New Territories was also an important sentinel for the port of Guangzhou to your north.
Writings within the twelfth century indicate that Castle peak in Tuen Mun (often known as Sheng Shan and pui To Shan) was a crucial navigation mark for mariners exiting Guangzhou and heading southeast thanks to its distinctive condition.
The Tuen Mun garrison, set up from the 24th yr of Emperor Xuanzong’s reign inside the Tang dynasty (AD736), was later an important naval base in the Ming dynasty. Unfortunately, what was historic Castle peak Bay now lies less than many metres of concrete, next comprehensive reclamation within the spot.
Together with the advent of a trade war involving the united states and China, the 200 products on display screen will also be a well timed reminder from the broader rewards to culture of trade.
Traders from persia, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Europe and in other places visited Chinese ports this kind of as Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Ningbo. They brought with them their artwork, music, faith and customs. It created southern Chinese ports within the Maritime Silk Street wealthy, tolerant and cosmopolitan entrepots.
“The idea is the fact that China acquired financially and culturally from the maritime silk routes and it aided establish several metropolitan areas alongside the China coast,” says museum director Richard Wesley.
By putting Hong Kong around the similar map as these ancient buying and selling cities, the exhibition also emphasises the shared maritime and cultural inbound links among Hong Kong and China, extensive ahead of it turned a British colony in the nineteenth century. That is something Beijing would no doubt welcome.
Wesley fiercely rejects the suggestion that force might have been exerted to stage an exhibition cementing Hong Kong’s historic location within just a critical Chinese foreign policy programme at these a significant time.
“We are a non-political and unbiased museum so we never choose recommendations from anybody,” he suggests.
“We aren't overplaying or exaggerating the role of Hong Kong. We've been saying that trading vessels applied Hong Kong waters for shelter and h2o prior to heading west about the Maritime Silk Street.”
poring over an early Qing dynasty Chinese scroll chart from the Guangdong spot, which plainly reveals ports all-around Superior Island, Chan concedes that much more do the job is required to establish the value of jap Hong Kong as a node within the substantial community that dominated trade and tradition in the location for many five generations.
“We will need extra do the job in maritime and land archaeology since you can find no prepared record. This is often silent history concealed less than the ocean and below the ground,” she says.
“It could convey to us lots of additional tales about Hong Kong just one thousand several years in the past.”
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