Abstract – Vietnamese Storage Jars And Long-Distance Trade : Reflections And New Evidences

Vietnamese Storage Jars And Long-Distance Trade : Reflections And New Evidences



Among items carried on the Chinese merchant ships since the 15thcentury, Vietnamese ceramic products have been found from the kilns of North and Central Vietnam, including large storage jars. May these jars being wares usually traded or objects used in the organization of the daily life on shipboard, they are transported through the intermediary of the Chinese merchants and inform us on specific aspects of the maritime trade economy.

Known for many years and partly studied, the knowledge on these is still very incomplete. Thanks to archaeological researches ran over the last twenty years, production sites in South China, Thailand or Myanmar have been studied and have allowed the identification of some of the jars found on boats. However, the origin of a large part of them remains unknown. Nevertheless, there seems to be a consensus between the specialists in the identification of some of these pieces as Vietnamese.
The frame of this work is the “SeaFaring: Maritime knowledge for Asian Seas” project, led by the EFEO (France) under the direction of Paola Calanca and the Institute of History and Philology (Academia Sinica, Taiwan) under the direction of Chen Kuo-tung. This project aims to identify and complete scientific data on the Chinese maritime tradition from the 16thto the 18thcentury.
My researches on the Vietnamese storage jars aim to identify the firing places these objects between the 16thand the 18thcentury and to analyze their place in the international maritime trade network and their link with the other types of Vietnamese ceramics carried on the Chinese merchant ships, and most largely with their ceramics cargo.

Although too rarely found on the production sites, the Vietnamese storage jars are discovered on numerous excavation sites along the Vietnamese coast and around the major urban centers in connection with local merchant networks. This presentation will try to distinguish the productions for local markets from those for international trade and to prepare the ground to the analysis of the distribution chain leading the large storage jars from the Vietnamese kilns to the merchant ships of the long-distance trade.


Beatrice Wisniewski(Centre Asie du Sud-Est/ CASE/UMR8170, EFEO/France) defended her doctoral thesis, at the Fourth Section of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, in 2012. Since her Master, her research is focused on the Vietnamese ceramic tradition of the first millennium AD, especially on pieces marked by a technical innovation of the “industry” of ceramics at the turn of the Common Era: the glazed ceramics.
In 2008, she collaborated in the organization of the ceramic production site of Tuan Chau excavations, in Quang Ninh province (Vietnam), in cooperation with archaeologists from the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi and funded by the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient.
Her research on various aspects of ancient Vietnamese ceramic tradition continues in France and Vietnam with the support of the Institute of Archaeology in Hanoi and the Ecole française d’Extrême-Orient. Since 2015, she is studying Vietnamese storage jars and their role in maritime trade networks as part of the ANR project “Seafaring: Maritime knowledge for China Seas” organized by the EFEO (France) and the Academia Sinica (Taiwan).