Tuesday, March 31, 2020

[Friday Seminar Recap] Chinese Shipwrecks, Treasure Hunters and the History of Underwater Cultural Heritage Regimes

 [Friday Seminar Recap]

Chinese Shipwrecks, Treasure Hunters and the History of Underwater Cultural Heritage Regimes
Speaker:  Steven Gallagher  (Associate Professor, Associate Dean (Teaching & Learning), The Faculty of Law, CUHK)
Time: 1:00 - 2:30 pm, 1st  November 2019 (Friday)
Venue: Rm.115, Humanities Building, New Asia College, CUHK
Text: Melody Tan  (Mphil student, Department of Anthropology, CUHK)


Shipwrecks are testimonies to maritime trade of an era and their treasures prove the glory of it. The issue on shipwrecks and their treasures have since become a widely discussed topic –Who owns them? And how can we protect them. In this Friday seminar, Prof. Steven Gallagher, Associate Professor and Associate Dean (Academic Affairs) of the Faculty of Law gave as an introduction to the history of salvage as well as the laws that protect the underwater cultural heritage (UCH).
Shipwrecks Salvage
Salvage was made possible by the invention of Diving Bell in 1682, with Sir William Phipps recovered almost 200,000 pounds’ worth of treasure. Future invention of the replenishable diving suits allowed the retrieval of cannon guns of Royal George which sank in 1782. Today, wrecks salvage can be categorised as pure salvage and contract salvage. Pure salvage, or treasure hunting, allows treasure hunters to search for unidentified, unclaimed or abandoned wrecks. Forrest suggested that for the protection of cultural heritage, salvaging should not be permitted (Forrest 2009).
 “The code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.” – Hector Barbossa
The Law of Salvage was likely to be developed after the tragic wreck of the White Ship, through the Rules of Oleron (circa 1266). The modern Law of Salvage advocates the ‘salving’ of lives, the ships and their cargoes through rewards to the salver. This Law of Salvage is applicable to most of the jurisdictions in the world today.
As for the ownership of these wrecks and their treasures, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982), states that “Coastal States exercise sovereignty over their territorial sea which they have the right to establish its breadth up to a limit not to exceed 12 nautical miles”. Prerogative rights and the Law of Finders (“finder keepers, loser weepers”) could also claim ownership of these wrecks. However, wrecks with unidentified owners recovered in the high seas can be claimed by those “treasure hunters”.
To protect and prevent commercial exploitation of the salvage, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the Convention on the Protection of UCH in 2001. The convention did not meet with good response – the salvaging projects of the Odyssey’s Black Swan (2007) and Belitung Wreck (1998 – 1999) still continued. Recent WWII Naval Ships in Southeast Asia, especially those in Java, are being recovered as scrap metals as well as their value of being used in medical and physics equipment.

“Not all treasure’s silver and gold, mate.” – Jack Sparrow
Ceramics, specifically blue and white ones, were the new silver and gold found in abundance in the seas of Southeast Asia. These newly discovered made-in-china porcelains in 1985 on the Hatcher Wreck triggered a development in China’s law and policy with regards to UCH. Since then, China showed extensive effort in protecting and preserving their UCH. In 2007, Southern Song dynasty wreck – Nanhai No. I – was raised from the South China seabed for the first time ever indoor underwater excavation. The Maritime Silk Route Museum was built in purpose of it, making an impactful political statement. China now finance many international archaeological excavations, along the route of maritime silk route to develop their political agenda.
Looking Forward
There will be many more treasures found, and it is our duty to protect these common cultural heritages. On  Hong Kong’s part, Prof. Gallagher quoted from a proposal co-authored by Dr. Bill Jeffrey and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum (HKMM): to create “an inventory of all the Hong Kong’s UCH, the identification of significant UCH archaeological sites of interest and if appropriate, nominate sites as monuments under Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance; correlating special exhibitions at HKMM that focus on the territory-wide survey outcomes; a community awareness campaign with the goal of attracting more recreational divers to become certified in UCH, and the development of a 3-year strategic plan.” 

Thursday, August 22, 2019



時間:2019年9月6日 下午7時-9時30分

周豁然女士(活耕建養地協會 社區歷史項目主任)
鍾浩浲先生 (香港大學精神醫學系呢一代Teen青研究 研究助理)

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Friday, February 1, 2019

2019 Anthropology Methods Summer Workshop Recruitment

2019 Anthropology Methods Summer Workshop
Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

The Anthropology Methods Summer Workshop will teach students about research design and train them in qualitative and ethnographic research methods. The students will develop their own research proposals, with the opportunity to receive critical comments from teachers. They will also benefit from peer learning, and will experience the advanced pedagogical techniques used at CUHK. This training and experience will broaden students’ horizons, helping them in their future studies.

The Workshop will be held from Friday 14 to Tuesday 18 June 2019, including morning and afternoon class sessions, and one half-day field trip as practicum for the topics covered in the Workshop, including exercises in developing observational, note-taking, and interviewing skills.

Target Students
Students majoring or minoring in Anthropology, Ethnology or related disciplines (e.g. Sociology, Cultural Studies, Social History, Religion, etc.) intending to pursue postgraduate degrees will be eligible for the Workshop. Priority will be given to senior undergraduates and MA/MPhil students, as they will soon be applying to PhD programmes. All students will be expected to be able to function at a high level in English since that will be the primary language of the Workshop.

Seminar Topics:
Research Design: How to Frame a Proposal for Ethnographic Research
Research Ethics in Anthropology
The Literature Review
The Statement of Goals and Significance
Interviewing Skills
When and How to Use Questionnaires
Participant Observation and Rapport
Keeping and Retrieving Field Notes
Direct and Unobtrusive Observation
Using and Analyzing Visual Media
Text Analysis and Identifying Themes
Ethnographic Writing

Academic Visitor
Dr. Joseph Bosco, who has taught the postgraduate methods seminar for 24 years, and was Graduate Division Head for 19 years in the Department of Anthropology, CUHK, will lead the workshop. He will attend all sessions with the students; some current teachers from the Department and advanced PhD students in the Anthropology Department will participate in the Workshop to discuss their fieldwork experiences and answer questions, giving participants a practical and deeper understanding of fieldwork.

Costs and Expenses
The Workshop will be free, contingent on receiving funding. We plan to provide free on-campus accommodation and a modest meal allowance. Students are expected to cover the cost of transportation to Hong Kong and to the CUHK campus. Please consult your local authorities for visa procedure and fees.

Application deadline: Monday 8 April, 2019 (Successful candidates will be notified by Thursday 18 April, 2019)

Application procedure: 
Please fill in the online application form and upload supporting documents, including:
1) Official undergraduate and postgraduate (if applicable) transcripts
2) Two letters of recommendation
3) Two short essays (under 800 words in total) in English, with the prompts “I want to pursue postgraduate studies in anthropology because…” and “The research topic I am most interested in is….”
4) TOEFL or IELTS scores (preferred), or other evidence of English ability



暑期人類學方法工作坊面向人類學、民族學或其他相關學科(如社會學、文化研究、歷史學、宗教學等)、有志於攻讀碩士或博士學位的學生。該工作坊將有香港中文大學人類學系前研究生主任Prof. Joseph Bosco參與,討論定性及民族誌研究方法,幫助學生制定自己的研究計劃,亦包括半天的實地田野考察。人類學系的其他教師及博士生亦會分享田野調查中的親身經驗。工作坊將主要以英語進行,主題包括:


1. 工作坊不收取學費,提供免費校內住宿和少量膳食津貼。學生需要承擔交通費用,並自行處理來港出入境事宜。
2. 申請截止日期為2019年4月8日,錄取者將在2019年4月18日前收到通知。
3. 申請程序:

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

[Special Seminar on Anthropological Theory Recap] Recognizing and Studying 'Identity' in Archaeological Contexts: Advances and Limitations

Date: 22nd November 2017 (Wednesday)
Time: 09:00 – 11:30 am
Speaker: Francis Allard (Professor, Department of Anthropology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania)
Venue: Room 401 Humanities Building New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Wong Pui Lim, Ginny (Research Assistant)

Identity is a topic discussed a lot for both anthropologists and archaeologists. Prof. Allard introduced some basic ideas about what identity is, why it’s important, and how it can be recovered or misinterpreted from archaeological remains. He discussed the idea of identity and how it is developed with two interesting articles: ‘We are not you: being different in Bronze Age Sicily’ by Anthony Russell (2016); and ‘More than the sum of its parts: Dress and social identity in a provincial Tiwanaku child burial’ by Sarah Baitzel and Paul Goldstein (2014).

Prof. Allard discussed with attendants about the concept of identity and what it is in modern society. There are ways to define someone’s identity, there is a list of characteristics, from age, job, sex, location and so on. He started by the study of identity in the United States (US). Similar to CUHK, archaeology is taught in anthropology in the US. Students learn about the concept of identity through cross-culture comparison. Students are always asked to read articles about things, places, time, period that they know nothing about, and to compare that with their own culture and behavior. Although involved with the problem of generalization, people often want to know about their own past in many countries. He also encouraged attendants to introduce themselves, about their background and how identity is related to the research they are doing. In psychology, identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks or expressions that make a person or group. Background trace is involved in both group and individual identity. The process of identity can be created or restructured. People used to think identity is set in us, which ‘we are who we are’. Now people tend to think of identity as a process, flexible and created.

Prof. Allard further explained this on the topic of identity process in archaeology. There are multiple dimensions of identity, which a person can have many identities at the same time. Some identities are born with, and some achieve with. On one hand, identity is self-reflective, everyone thinks of themselves a specific identity. However, where who you are, how you look, also give an impression who your identity is to someone else. There are different interruptions from different observers, and thus imagine our identity by looking at us. This kind of images can be changed when we talk to each other. However, when you are an archaeologist, you wouldn't have that conversation. All you have are the material reminds, from body, stuff and buried, to imagine and impose the identity of that person. The process of identity can be manipulated, such as for political and ideology purpose. Prof. Allard pointed out that identity of people of the past is linked to the identity of people in present, which may not be the truth. For instance, people tend to think Chinese long civilization as continuous and in one place, which the ancient people lived in the land as their ancestors. The Chinese identity tie to the land.

‘We are not you: being different in Bronze Age Sicily’ by Anthony Russell (2016) is an example of how interpretations by archaeologists influenced the identity. Internal culture is not always about identity. Prof. Allard suggested that identity is made up by ourselves and by others. Most of the time people don’t associate the identity with their behavior, in fact, they just do things they usually do. There is not always a ‘real purpose’ behind one’s or groups’ behavior. The group defines themselves more often when facing ‘others'. There is no need to define us and the others when the group of people is isolated, without connecting to other groups of people. Communications between groups will lead to an increase indifference. However, Prof. Allard suggested that we should doubt and think about interpretation. In Russell’s (2016) article, it is suggested that the culture change of Sicily in the middle-late Bronze Age was influenced by Greece. The author suggested that people Sense of ethnic identity exist and express when faced with the beautiful thing from Greece. The Sicilian absorbed the Greece pottery and recreate it in a local way to show distinctiveness. The shape of Greece pottery is kept but people still use the local and traditional way to produce pottery. The Sicilian adopted a new way to structure sediments but maintain some characteristics of themselves so the product will look different and distinctive. ‘Why this author might be wrong?’ Prof. Allard asked. The distinctive pottery made by the Sicilian may not represent the grown sense of identity. Whether people changed their pottery because they feel their ethnic difference is important. There are different ways to interpret the distinctive pottery. Everything may not be about identity, just like everything we do, make and build is not always to express your identity.

‘More than the sum of its parts: Dress and social identity in a provincial Tiwanaku child burial’ by Sarah Baitzel and Paul Goldstein (2014) is another example of interpretations and identity. When archaeologists excavated a tomb, one common question to ask is ‘who is this person?’ As Prof. Allard suggested, people will easily think about whether the body is male or female, rich or poor, the ethnic background… This leads to another question of how recognize we are about how materials world mean to us and our identity? The author of this article focused on 28 archaeological journals in 2000-2013 to study how people understand identity when people do not focus on this like we are now. Prof. Allard stated the importance of material reality. Identity is constructed when people react with the material world around. Sarah Baitzel and Paul Goldstein (2014) studied the funeral behavior and how the identity of the dead is constructed by the living. Textile and layers of clothes for the dead is communication not just to the dead person but also the living as it is there for everyone to see in the funeral. The textile and meaning of clothes are changed within layers, changing from private to public. Material culture has agency and power to construct someone’s sense of identity.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE SEA: Sichuan Sanxingdui.Jiangkou Battlefield & Guangdong Nanhai No.I Shipwreck Archaeology Internship 2017-2018 Exhibition Talk Series 3 Treasures of the Deep: Maritime Archaeology in Hong Kong, China and Asia-Pacific

Treasures of the Deep: Maritime Archaeology in Hong Kong, China and Asia-Pacific

Speaker: Prof. Bill Jeffery (Assistant Professor, University of Guam)
Time: 4:00 - 6:00 pm, 16th November, 2018 (Friday)
Venue: LT4 Esther Lee Building, Chung Chi College, CUHK
Organizers 主辦:
Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學人類學系
Sichuan Archaeology Research Institute, China 四川省文物考古研究院
Co-organizer 協辦:
University Library, The Chinese University of Hong Kong 香港中文大學圖書館

Text: Wong Pui Lim, Ginny (Research Assistant)

Maritime archaeology (underwater archaeology) is a relatively new discipline in the anthropology field, focusing on the submerged sites, artifacts, human remains and landscapes. However, with a similar background as archaeology, maritime archaeology commenced with a fascination and collection of curios or antiquities and not always with a motivation to preserve and study the archaeological record for the benefit of the general public. Apart from the monetarily value from artifacts, sites such as Nanhai No. I Shipwreck in China and the Hong Kong waters could potentially contain sites of great interest in China’s maritime activities. How to study these submerged treasures and how to manage them have become a heated debate for Hong Kong, China, Asia Pacific area and all over the world. On 16th November 2018, Prof. Bill Jeffery, who has been involved in maritime archaeology for over 30 years, gave a public lecture on these issues and activities in addition to placing the region’s maritime archaeology into the world context, particularly in association with UNESCO and its Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage.

For archaeologists, treasures of the deep are ‘treasures’ with regards to their historical value instead of their monetarily value.  Prof. Jeffery presented his experience in studying various maritime archaeological sites and highlighted the importance of these ‘treasures’ as cultural heritage rather than merely exotic things for auctions and collecting. Archaeologists study the sites and artifacts, together with its context and maritime environment, and come up with different conservation and management plans.

There are various types of underwater cultural heritage, from shipwrecks like Titanic and Nanhai No. 1 to sunken ruins and cities like of the Pharos of Alexandria in Egypt. These traces of human existence in the past was buried at bottom of lakes, seas and oceans, safely preserved by the submarine environment. Among these heritages, Prof. Jeffery especially addressed on ships. Ships have been ‘the largest and most complex objects produced in most socializes before the industrial revolution’ as Prof. Jeffery described. Ships have been the most important source of transportation until the advent of aircraft and the result of the leading edge of technologies of most preindustrial societies since Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age). It also has an important role in the ancient world, from the building of extraordinary buildings such as pyramids and obelisks to the growth of towns and cities.

Since the 1970s, over 50 shipwrecks have been investigated in and around China that highlighted the trade between China, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. Nanhai No. 1 Shipwreck in China is one of the examples that had provided rich information about trade in the 13th century. Prof. Jeffery was the trainer to teach the first generation of Chinese maritime archaeologists and assisted with the investigation of Nanhai No. I Shipwreck in the 1990s. Frame, layers and construction of the ship are studied. Silt, coral and other maritime environment protected the heritage especially for wood like timbre which is comparatively difficult to surface on land. The shipwreck is a Fukien type (Foochow junk) during the Song dynasty, loaded with numerous set of good quality ceramics, coins and foreign style artifacts such as the gilt belt. Some of the artifacts are of Islamic style, suggesting the connection between Song and the Middle East. A stone stock from the anchor is also found. The stone stock of similar style and material was found in waters off High Island in Hong Kong by members of Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group. It represented the maritime trade that linked China with Hong Kong and the overseas during Song dynasty, as well as the shipbuilding and ceramics development history of China. Shipwrecks and documents reflected the ‘Four Oceans Navigation’ before foreign contact. China built the Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum and salvage the shipwreck and its cargoes as a whole for indoor excavation. It is a new practice that allows archaeologists to excavate the underwater heritage on land. The excavation is also showcased in the museum for visitors. However, Prof. Jeffery pointed out that there are problems brought by the change of the water environment of the shipwreck. Further regulations to the physical and chemical components are needed for easing degradation and for permanent preservation of the Nanhai No. I Shipwreck.

In the talk, Prof. Jeffery discussed the issue of pillaging or commercial exploitation attempts on the underwater cultural heritage sites. Collectors and treasure hunters have taken their toll on terrestrial and underwater sites, recovering and collecting artifacts for selling or keeping as personal possessions. Tek Sing is one of the examples. The ship was carrying thousands of immigrants sailing from China to Batavia yet sank, causing a tragic disaster. The shipwreck was discovered with human remains and countless ceramics. However, the excavation was motivated by treasure hunting which valuable ceramics found were sold and auctioned to private owners for a huge profit. The controversy of commercial underwater archaeology happened again in the case of Belitung shipwreck in Indonesia. Commercial trade is allowed by the government and the excavated artifacts are kept by the Indonesian government and sold to Singapore with millions of dollars, despite the truth that the ship belonged to China and part of the history of its people. Prof. Jeffery pointed out that the shipwreck was excavated within a short period that much of the information it might have provided about the ship’s crew and cargo was lost. An academic and comprehensive archaeological excavation is absent that important knowledge about our shared history is lost forever.

Finally, Prof. Jeffery drew the attention to the urgent need to developed maritime archaeology in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong waters, located in a significant part of the maritime Silk Road, could potentially contain sites of great interest in China’s maritime activities. The Song Dynasty anchor stock found in Hong Kong waters suggested a tantalizing link between Hong Kong and the other parts of the world in the past. Currently, the research on Hong Kong's underwater heritage excavation is supported by The Hong Kong Underwater Heritage Group (HKUHG), a group of maritime archaeology trained divers who voluntarily implementing a host of maritime archaeology activities. They are developing underwater archaeological sites database through analyzing and consolidating data for almost 300 Hong Kong sites in a wrecks database from the United Kingdom’s Hydrographic Office (UKHO). Hong Kong Maritime Museum also provided basic training in maritime archaeology. There are a lot of maritime cultural landscapes and seascapes in Hong Kong that worth more attention from government and the community. Prof. Jeffery shared his idea of training more divers and maritime archaeologists in Hong Kong to assist with local research and to protect cultural heritage.


文:黃珮琳 (研究助理)



首先,攝影測量是一門通過攝影,對所獲得的影像進行測量的學科測量。攝影的基本原理是前方交會方法,在兩個已知的控制點(A 、B)上加設全站儀,分別測量水平角∠PAB 、∠PBA和BP方向的坐標值,然後根據測量數據與已知點A和B的座標值計算未知點P的座標。攝影測量是在被測物體前的兩個已知位置(攝影站或攝影中心)攝取兩張影像,然後在室內利用攝影測量儀器測左右影像相同名點(即空間同一個點,在左、右影像上的像點)的影像座標交會得到空間點的三維座標。因為左右影像是同一個空間物體的投影,所以利用影像上任意一對同名點都能交會得到一個對應空間點和其座標。攝影測量不僅可以測量一個空間的點,而且能夠利用影像重建和測量空間三維物體的模型,對影像進行測量。劉老師指出投影差產生的像點位移問題,無論是起伏的地形還是高出地面的事物,在照片中與其平面位置相比會產生位置的移動,三維重建軟件能解決這些誤差並建立空間關係。


劉老師特別指出,拍攝影像的數量和採用鏡頭的焦距應該根據現場情況而定。相鄰影像的重疊度至少須大於80%,交會個不少於5°,並需盡量減少樹木等的遮蔽以免降低匹配成果。所拍攝的目標要充滿整幅影像的八成以上,不同影像上的同一地物應該大致相等。控制點座標需要使用電子全站二儀或實時動態技術 (Real Time Kinematic, RTK) 進行測量。電子全站儀測量精度高,特別是使用免棱鏡方式直接瞄準控制中心進行測量時,能夠得到3至5毫米的測量精度。而使用棱鏡測量時,應該盡量降低棱鏡的高度以提高測量精度。而使用RTK進行測量時的誤差可能達到10 厘米左右。劉老師認為使用相機拍下現場測量的控制點座標,或者直接聯機導出成本文件更好,能避免筆錄時進行抄寫錯誤。劉老師就此解釋拍攝常用的相機設置,例如光圈數值8、10左右,景深好而曝光所須時間亦較短。感光度應在100至400之間,使用手動白平衡和TTL閃光燈模式,並應該在中心單點、單次對焦。如果光線不足、死白或死黑、拍攝角度太斜等便須要大量後期工作,因此在開頭拍一張好照片很重要。他又簡單解釋了如何使用軟件做後期,指出導出影像時TIFF會比JEPG和PNG檔更好,後期處理後輸出的影像質素較佳。其後劉老師再講述深入文物拍攝技巧。文物拍攝時應先擺放座標紙或控制板,擺正文物角度,四個對焦點分別是器物內底、口沿內、口沿外、底部外側。

在超低空拍攝方面,低空空域是指1000米以下的空域,其中200米以下稱為超低空。中國在2013年11月18日實施的《民用無人駕駛航空器系統駕駛管理暫行規定》指出,重量少於或等於7公斤的微量無人機,飛行範圍在半徑500米內、相對高度低於120米的目視視距範圍內無需證照管理。因此一般使用無人機拍攝都會依照這個規定,並留意什麼地方最不能拍照的。控制點標示版的大小應該根據飛行高度和相機焦距來確定。使用全畫幅相機、2千萬像素、21至25 毫米焦距鏡頭拍攝時,相對高度30米內可以使用10 X 10 厘米的控制點標誌板;相對高度在30至60米是可以使用20 X 20厘米的控制點標誌板;相對高度在60至100米時可以使用30 X 30厘米的控制點標示板。標誌板大小合適的時候才能在拍攝的影像中清晰明顯,易於標誌中心位置。另外,拍攝時的飛行高度需要根據影像的分辨率來確定。一般飛行3至4米的相對高度可以獲1毫米的正射影像圖;30至40米的相對飛行高度可以獲得1厘米的正寫影像圖。在相機設置方面,應該選擇短焦距的手動對焦鏡頭,並選擇拍攝範圍內最亮的地面物體進行測光,使最亮地物的照片上曝光合適,其他地物的曝光可以稍為減弱一點。光圈為8左右,使用日光型而非自動白平衡。在數據處理方面,三維重建前需要對全部影像進行篩選,盡量減少參與像素處理的影像數目。沒有樹木、房屋而且地勢平穩的區域相鄰影像應該具有50至60%的航向重疊。相反,較複雜的地貌,相鄰影像需要具有80%左右的航向重疊。200幅而內的影像可以使用6000X4000,超過200幅影像是最好把像素減到3000×2000像素,一次處理的影像數目最好不超過800幅。



日期:2018年10月19日 (星期五) 下午4:00-6:00
講者:孫華教授 (北京大學考古文博學院教授及文化遺產保護研究中心主任)
文:黃珮琳 (研究助理)








文:黃珮琳 (研究助理)




展覽開幕典禮於2018年10月19日 (星期五) 在大學圖書館地下的數碼學術研究室舉行,香港中文大學圖書館館長李露絲女士、香港中文大學人類學系系主任麥高登教授、香港中文大學新亞書院副院長朱嘉濠教授、北京大學考古文博學院教授及文化遺產保護研究中心主任孫華教授、一九八一新亞中文系校友中華文化活動基金捐贈人張倩儀女士、香港中文大學人類學系助理教授林永昌教授以及黃慧怡教授一同擔任主禮嘉賓。麥高登教授、孫華教授、林永昌教授、黃慧怡教授以及學生代表鍾禮筠同學先後在開幕典禮上致辭。一眾嘉賓進行了開幕剪綵儀式後,麥高登教授代表人類學系贈送紀念品予嘉賓,之後所有出席者一同觀賞同學們考古實習體驗的短片。展覽於2018年10月15日至12月20日在香港中文大學大學圖書館舉行,附以一系列相關講座。


[Friday Seminar Recap] Making Pots in Mainland Southeast Asia

Date: 7th September 2018 (Friday)
Time: 1:00 – 2:30 pm
Speaker: Louise Allison CORT (Curator, Ceramics Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Smithsonian Institution)
Venue: Room 12 Humanities Building New Asia College, CUHK

Text: Wong Pui Lim (Research Assistant)

Potters at work today in rural villages of Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and southern Yunnan province, PRC, make earthenware or stoneware for local and regional markets. Although under pressure from various social and material changes, these two basic types of ceramics still play important roles in local food preparation, and storage and in religious rituals. The technologies associated with their production reveal cultural continuities and boundaries that are obscured by the commonplace classifications of populations on the basis of language, ethnicity, or modern nationality. Ms. Louise Cort shared the summarized result of a long-term research project about village based pottery production in mainland Southeast Asia that took place between 1989 and 2010. It is a collaborated field research with Dr. Leedom Lefferts that visited more than two hundred communities, looking for distinctive patterns of productions in these villages.

According to Ms. Cort, there are few historical documents in mainland Southeast Asia. Most of the information about the production is from excavations in Indonesia, Philippines or from shipwrecks in particular.  However, there is a big gap in understanding why in the past ceramics were made in various part in Southeast Asia. How it is organized beyond the scale of village production?  How these ceramics come to be made? There are no written documents for how indigenous produce or how these ceramics are revalued by their makers and users. Therefore, Ms. Cort conducted this long-term field research by witnessing methods of pottery production to fill evidence in the gap. What method did she use to conduct the research?

‘Just sit down and let things happen,' she stated. She visited communities where potteries are still being made and conducted informal interviews with the villages to understand practical everyday use of this village-based produced pottery and for its local or regional distribution. Through close observation and videotape recording of potters at work, two fundamental patterns of production technology for stoneware and seven patterns for earthenware were identified. Ms. Cort emphasized the importance of not to edit the video or select a specific part of the production process. Instead, the researchers documented the whole process of the ceramics production process. Why is this so important? One big discovery in the research is that there is a variety of way to make earthenware pot that looks the same when they finish. By observing the whole process of pottery production, there are various ways to make pottery. Even the product may look the same in the end, their beginning can be very different. The project identified 6 types of different ways in making earthenware pottery, naming from A to F. Ms. Cort selected on type A, B and C to explain their patterns and distributions. Type C is special because it used a way that is similar to make stoneware potter at the very beginning. Therefore, it is key to understand the production by seeing it from the beginning to the end.

Through her past experience and study in Japan and India, Ms. Cort suggested that earthenware and stoneware ceramics usually do not exist together in a community. One will usually take dominate role and the other disappear. It is special in Southeast Asia that two different kinds of ceramics exist in same time and same place in the community and the market. They are also related to one another. Production of potters is regarded as one of the means to earn money. There is a seasonal variation which most people produced potters in the dry season when there is little or no rain for farming. Some people will choose to join the work team to overseas instead of producing ceramics. 

Earthenware production is the work of women in Ms. Cort’s study. It is used to store water or for cooking purpose. One special thing about it is that people will place it near the main road of the village which anyone walk pass can drink the water. This ritual still exists even in large and modern cities in the region that pottery will be placed at the door as decoration. Different shapes of potters are made to suit different cooking needs, for instance, the pot for steaming rice is different from those for steaming medicine.

Indigenous stoneware production of mainland Southeast Asia is located at the interior (Thai) and coastal (Vietnamese).  Historically, two different patterns of stoneware technologies were found in the region that is not defined by a modern national border. Stoneware is the work of men in many parts of the region, especially Northeast Thailand and Laos. In contrast, no men make pottery in Vietnamese. As high temperature is required in the production, people will use a kiln shared by the community in a rotation.  People usually work as a team, one as the shaper and the other as the spinner. It has a different role in storage. It is used to store rainwater in dry seasons, rice, textile, alcohol and so on. Some are for guest use only. Ms. Cort mentioned an interesting battle between the host and the guest. A larger potter of drinking water with long straw will be provided to the guest. The host will keep adding water into the potter while the guest is drinking. The one who stops first will lose the game. The shape of jars is designed for specific, practical use. Each of them has a distinctive role in households that cannot be replaced.

In the end, Ms. Cort suggested that the activities and sites would have changed in a certain level after the project ended. She believed that the activities and sites will reduce compare to a decade ago. Therefore, she encouraged other researchers to carry on the studies for a better understanding to the ceramics and its peoples.