The Anping Jar, A Widely Distributed Porcelain Container Around the 17th Century

Independent Scholar, Japan

Glazed ceramics recovered from archaeological sites are useful for identifying the trade networks that extended across Southeast Asia. Common utilitarian wares can be particularly useful as they tended not to be retained for long periods of time or reused in the same way that many ‘expensive’, decorative vessels might be. The Anping jar is a good example of a typical small glazed ceramic container produced during the 17th Century CE. They were mass produced from inferior white porcelain inland from Fujian, China, but named Anping after the eponymous 17th Century port city in Taiwan where the first jars were identified in the 1920s. These jars were traded across Taiwan, including into aboriginal villages. They have been found at Hoi An, Vietnam, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand, Kota Tinggi, Malaysia, at many archaeological sites in Indonesia and a few locations in Japan such as Nagasaki and Okinawa. Probably, the earliest record of Anping ceramics is from the Spanish shipwreck the San Diego off Manila, dating to 1600 CE, and the latest records of Anping pottery are within the ‘Vung Tau cargo’ from Vietnam dated to c. 1690 CE. In this presentation I discuss the characteristics and morphology of the glazed Anping jars and provide a classification of vessel forms identified at Banten Lama, Indonesia. I will also examine some examples of reuse of Anping ceramics from Amakusa, Japan and Tainan, Taiwan.