Ceramic water jar
10th century
Object Name: Jar
Period: 10th century
Date: 970 CE
Provenance: southeast Asia
Dimensions: 39 x 37 cm, weigh:4.3kg
Medium: earthenware
Registration Number: QM.2017.0865
This ceramic water jar is made from porous clay, allowing its contents to keep cool through the evaporation process. Its bottom is completely rounded, indicating it would have been supported by a tripod or suspended by a net woven from plant fibres. Its shape and particular manufacturing technique is typical of Southeast Asian productions. The globular shape is obtained by beating a loaf of clay with a paddle. The paddle could be decorated, as here fine incisions remain on the jar’s surface.
In 2003 a shipwreck was discovered 90 nautical miles (160 kilometres) off the coast of Cirebon, a port city in Indonesia. Referred to now as the Cirebon shipwreck, it had been lost in the Java Sea for over 1000 years. The wreck was found by local fishermen whose nets caught some of the Chinese ceramics originally onboard. Subsequently, the wreck was excavated by archaeologists in 2004-2005, yielding thousands of pieces of glassware, jewellery, ceramics and various trinkets.

Half of the findings have been acquired by Qatar Museums and will feed into ongoing research into 10th-century trade routes between the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The ship’s final voyage can be traced back to 970 CE based on copper coins from the Chinese kingdom of Nan Han (917-971 CE) that were onboard. It is believed the ship was engaged in long coastal voyages from China to the Middle East, via Southeast Asia and India.
HARANSTININGSIH, N., WIBISONO, S., MIKSIC, J. 2010, Catalogue of the Cirebon Wreck, Sunken Treasures from the Tenth Century (Five Dynasties or Early Northern Song), PNAS BKMT, The Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta.

LIEBNER, H. H. 2014, The Siren of Cirebon
A Tenth-Century Trading Vessel Lost in the Java Sea, PhD University of Leeds. BARI, H., 2014, The Cirebon Wreck, dated around 970, its meaning and its presentation [Unpublished report, Pearl and Jewelry Collection, Qatar Museums].