In the year of 1625, our small ship lay at anchor off Macao and had just completed loading porcelain from the kilns at Jingdezhen.  This special cargo had been ordered last year by our owner and it was for us to send it to Melaka where it would be sold to merchants from all over Southeast Asia with another selection going onto Portugal.  Small river crafts had transported the porcelain from Jingdezhen on the Chang River to Nanchang via Lake Poyang and the long way on narrow winding rivers to Meiling.  Here the porcelain bundles had been hand-carried over the Meiling Pass before being reloaded in Guangdong based boats, bringing it to Guangzhou.  From there we had just received the cargo and paid the boat owner handsomely for the transport.  Although a hazardous and long journey, though rapids and shallow water, that journey was easy compared with the onward voyage to Melaka which we were about to embark on.

Although our king had controlled Melaka for the last century, the Dutch always tried to capture our merchant ships, take our precious cargo and then set fire to the ships.  Our Portuguese owner who resided in Macao for many years had already lost one ship to the Dutch and was afraid of the ever increasing Dutch aggression.

Our small Shalupa ship, we named ‘Wanli’ had been built in India from local hardwood to Portuguese design by Chinese shipbuilders.  These shipwrights had left China centuries earlier following emperor Hungwu’s ban on the building ocean going vessels.  With this mixture of traditional shipbuilding techniques and hardwood timber, our small ship had proven successful in the trade-route between Macao, Melaka, Goa and Manila.  Had it not been for the Dutch whom also harassed shipping and trade in Chinese ports, we would have nothing to fear.

As we depended on monsoon winds from the northeast, we could only sail south between December and February. The Dutch knew this and therefore hide behind the Malaysian islands waiting for our ships to arrive from China.  It was not fair play, as they could easily buy their own porcelain from traders all along the Chinese cost.  But, being Dutch, they preferred to take our ships and deprive us from a reasonable profit and Melaka from maintaining her important merchant centre.

Finally, our Captain, a seasoned Nanhai Ocean veteran with the name of Alvaro Vilas Boas, received orders from our merchant to set sail.  The Melaka market was apparently waiting for porcelain cargoes which had been in good demand lately.  We loaded the last crates of chicken and ducks which was to be our main fresh food, filled the last water containers and set sail.

It was a pleasant journey.  The monsoon winds allowed our ship to maintain good speed despite the choppy sea.  We changed watch every four hours and were fed plenty of good food.  It was indeed nice to live in Asia and to be part of such an important trade route supplying Southeast Asia, India and Europe with Chinese goods.

We had just reached the northernmost Malaysian Islands to refill our water storage jars when we received warnings from the locals.  Dutch ships had been seen further down the coast capturing another Portuguese vessel and stolen their cargo before setting the ships on fire.

Now, are we going to take the risk of meeting the ‘red-haired’ thieves or remain on the island unable to continue when the monsoon wind turned around?  The Captain did not have any choice as it would delay the return trip by a full year. We had to continue, Dutch ships or not!

The continued journey was not as pleasant as before.  We keep constant watch, looking out for other ships and, just in case, prepared our cannons, matchlock guns and gunpowder.  If indeed the Dutch were to appear, we were determined to fight.   And, sure enough, there they are, just inside the Pulao Tenggol Island.

The ship in front of us is a large ship displaying the Dutch VOC company flag.  She carry many cannons with longer range than our smaller pieces.   Detection is unavoidable.  It’s a clear morning and the Dutch crew were on constant look-out for easy prey like us.

As a Portuguese ship with fewer and smaller cannons, we would normally respond in any of three ways:  We could fight to the last man and hope to outsmart the Dutch.  We could set fire to our own ship to deprive the Dutch from taking the cargo.  Or, try to beach our vessel, set it on fire and run into the jungle, hoping the Dutch don’t follow.  Earlier Portuguese attempts to beach their vessels had infuriated the Dutch to such degree that they had imposed “keel hauling on Portuguese Captains if ever captured.  Set fire to our own ship did not seem like a good idea as we would have given up too easily.  Although the possibilities of wining a battle were slim, it did appear as the only reasonable option.  So, we all decided to fight!

We needed a lot of encouragement.  For this the Captain handed out beer and bottles of rum.  Not only did the alcohol result in better fighting spirit, it would also reduce the pain when limbs and legs were shot-off.  By the time we reached for additional bottles, the Dutch had already fired the first salvo.  Their long range cannon sounded like thunder and their fireballs, aimed at our mast and sails, did just that.  The first hail of cannon balls come in over our heads and destroyed the only mast we had and immobilized us.  Without mast, without sails and still outside our firing range, the Dutch had an advantage, none of us had contemplated.
A fictitious story about the loss of the Wanli shipwreck based on evidences from the wreck site, historical records and prevailing conditions at the time.

To view or to purchase the full catalogue: "The Wanli Shipwreck and its Ceramic Cargo," go to: Publications.
Soon they were alongside us and sent their men to attack us with chains, lancets and long-swords.  They were so furious and aggressive in their fighting that many of our men decided it best to jump overboard.  Much hurt was inflicted on our men before the Captain decided to  surrender.  As this was not enough, the Dutch continued their savaging and then took our Portuguese flag as a prize.  Without consideration, they stole our bronze cannons, anchors, our silk draperies and the silver dollars from the Captains chest before setting us on fire. 
Click to enlarge
The Wanli
Ming dynasty porcelain and kraak porcelain and other Asian pottery from the Wanli shipwreck. This site also offers antique Chinese porcelain and other Asian antiques
Click on above images to view Antique Ming dynasty Porcelain for sale
Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn. Bhd.
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A fictitious story based on archaeology and historical circumstances
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Interpretation of medallion motifs
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Porcelains from the shipwreck
Soon they were alongside us and sent their men to attack us with chains, lancets and long-swords.  They were so furious and aggressive in their fighting that many of our men decided it best to jump overboard.  Much hurt was inflicted on our men before the Captain decided to  surrender.  As this was not enough, the Dutch continued their savaging and then took our Portuguese flag as a prize.  Without consideration, they stole our bronze cannons, anchors, our silk draperies and the silver dollars from the Captains chest before setting us on fire. 

Then the left as soon as they had arrived, leaving us in a burning inferno.  All this damage and loss of property had taken place before we had fired a single cannon ball.  The whole battle had taken less than a day.  Yet, none of us had the time to save the rum before it was consumed by the fire.  As there was no way to save our blazing ship, the few crew and passengers surviving the onslaught jumped overboard.  While holding onto floating debris we drifted away from our burning ship.  When the fire eventually reached the powder store, with a full load of power, she blew up with such a bang that it could be heard all the way to Melaka.  Barrels of powder went high into the sky together with chests of silk rolls.  Large pottery vessels went high and wild after fragmenting and smashing into the sea next to us.  In the middle of the chaos, the crippled mast and yarn took off like projectiles and disintegrated before our eyes.  Planks and coil of ropes become airborne and the sea around us soon appeared a junk yard.  It was indeed a spectacular site!

As we drifted along, we eventually reached the shore where the locals, awaken by the explosion was waiting on the beach.  They first appeared friendly and helpful but eventually took all our cloths away leaving us naked and without food and water.

After dressing in leaves we headed overland towards the direction of Melaka.  During the long walk, we lost all but three of our men to starvation and lack of water.  Although we tried to eat various jungle creeps and a few monkey’s it was that unpleasant that we soon found it better to continue without food.

When reaching the small town of Muar on the other side of the Malay Peninsula, we received help from a Chinese merchant. He provided us with food and clothing and a Malay guide whom traveled with us for another two days.  Now here, before you, we wish to report our misfortune, our hardship and the loss of the ‘Wanli’ ship.  We all hoped we could arrive here with the ship so we could show you the very fine porcelain cargo we had in the cargo holds.

Three sailors reporting before
Matias de Albuquerque,
Viceroy of India

Although the above story is fictitious; everything in it is based on evidences uncovered during the excavation of the shipwreck and by adding true historical circumstances.

While it would take nearly 400 years before the shipwreck was found, it was with careful excavation of the ships remains, its porcelain cargo and by continued research the story of the ‘Wanli’ ship could be told.  Only one interesting reflection remains: Had it not been for the attack on the ship, the porcelain pieces would have been lost over time in Europe instead of being offered to interested buyers all over the world via these Web Pages.
Gift wares from the Desaru shipwreck
Qing dynasty porcelain wares from the Desaru shipwreck
540 year old celadon jarlets
Jars, pots and more from various shipwrecks
Porcelain shard collections from the Wanli shipwreck
14th -19th century jars & bottles from various shipwrecks
Chinese porcelain spoons from the desaru shipwreck
Black painted fish and flower plates
Yixing teapots from the Desaru shipwreck
Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn. Bhd.
Kuala Rompin. Malaysia.
Copyright: (C) Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn. Bhd. 2010
Phone: + 60 127 614 759. Email to us

14th - 16th century celadon wares
Ming dynasty porcelain wares from the Wanli shipwreck

Nanhai Marine Archaeology Sdn. Bhd. was incorporated on the recommendation of the Malaysian authorities. This was done in order to formalize and to expand on the founder’s extensive knowledge of Asia’s ceramic developments and maritime trade.

The company’s researchers have been engaged in the search for historical shipwrecks for more than two decades and another decade researching maritime trade. Most of this work is concentrated to the South China Sea, a virtual highway for ancient shipping linking China to India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia in an extensive maritime trade system. This ancient trade started sometime around the 4th century and lasted well into the 19th century.

Following a successful shipwreck discovery, the company obtain a government permit to excavate the wreckage, and then carry out detailed marine archaeological procedures in recovering the artifacts, mapping the ship's remains and securing other data for future research. After each concluded project and following conservation of recovered artifacts, we search for and pinpoint ruined kiln sites and compare its wasters with the recovered ceramics until we are satisfied we located the place in which the shipwreck pottery was made centuries earlier. 

As such we have precisely located a kiln sites in Sisatchanalai, northern Thailand in which our Royal Nanhai and the Nanyang shipwreck celadon ware was made around AD. 1380-1460. (See videos on: ) Other kilns was located in Sukhothai where production wasters matched the fish and flower plates found on the Turiang and the  Longquan shipwreck. These unique underglaze decorated wares was made at those exact kilns 600 years before we found them on the shipwrecks in Malaysia!  Our latest shipwreck cargo; The Wanli Shipwreck, of Chinese blue and white porcelain, was likewise pinpointed to the Guangyinge kiln site in Jingdezhen, China. (See video on: )

Our arrangement with the Malaysian authorities is such that we finance all operations and train young Malaysian nationals (on our initiative) in maritime archaeology and related research. After giving all unique and single artifacts and thirty percent of all recovered items to the National Museum (and assisting with exhibitions of artifacts from each reports, books and catalogues are available on these pages as well as on a separate Internet site.

Due to the unquestionable authenticity and precisely dated shipwreck pottery, many International Museums now display our shipwreck pieces as reference material. (See: for a list of these musems).

The artifacts sold on this website are therefore legally and properly excavated and can be supplied with an export permit from the Department of Museum in Malaysia should this be required. This unique working arrangement makes us one of the few Internet sellers that sell from own excavation and deliver a meaningful Certificate of Authenticity for every artifact with a serial number.

So, if you are interested to purchase some of our Chinese porcelain and other shipwreck artifacts from the Song dynasty, Ming dynasty, or 19th century Qing porcelain or the famous Yixing teapots, you can rest assured that every piece is excavated through proper archaeology by our own staff. We do not sell anything that is not excavated by ourselves or properly recorded and researched before offered for sale so every piece comes with the “Best possible provenance”


When buying anything from our web pages you are NOT dealing with antique dealers or other middle men. You will be buying directly from a team of dedicated researchers whom excavated, recovered and researched every single piece offered for sale. We encourage you to contact us by email with questions regarding your possible purchase. Write to: Sten Sjostrand

If you are not satisfied with our artifacts, delivery service or; if you obtain an expert opinion that our artifacts are not as old as stated by us, just return the item and we will give you full refund. Who guarantee refund?

All our antique Chinese porcelain, Chinese pottery, Asian antiques and publications will be shipped from our store in Malaysia. The default shipping metod is "Registered Air Parcel" which is managed by Malaysia’s national post office.  Once your package is delivered to the post office, you can track its routing INSIDE Malaysia by clicking here. If you reside in the US, you can track the package's routing WHEN in the USA by clicking here. All other customers can find their national post office and their respective online tracking systems by clicking here.

When at these tracking sites, you should enter the 13 digit tracking number -which we will provide you in a separate emai after sending your order. Once this is done, we would expect to be notified about the safe arrival of the artifact(s). Should we not receive such arrival notice inside three weeks from the date when the items were delivered to the Malaysian post office, we will consider it delivered and close the account without any possibility to trace its loss or delivery thereafter.

We do not insure our shipments due to costly premiums and difficulties with claiming compensation in case of damage or loss. Instead, we provide safe packing boxes where each artifact is embedded and separated by foam padding. Should you despite this care receive your piece(s) damaged, we ask you to return it to us after sending us pictures of its condition on arrival. We shall then send you replacement piece(s) -free of charge. If the tracking system confirms that your package has been lost, we shall replace the artifact(s) without cost to you.

To read our customer's comments on shipping & packing, please visit our testimonies page  Here you can email the buyer directly for  verification of their statements. Please note that each of these customers has agreed to us publishing their email addresses such that anyone can write to them for confirmation of their various comments.



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The story about the loss of the Wanli ship