MARITIME HERITAGE

Written by root. Posted in BEST OF BRUNEI

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Published on September 01, 2015 with No Comments

A new museum reflects the maritime culture and history of Brunei and adds credit to its past community.

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In 1997, a routine geophysical survey by Elf Petroleum (now known as TotalFinaElf) discovered a shipwreck 40 kilometres off the coast of Brunei. Preliminary research done by the Brunei Museums Department and Départment des Recherches Archeolelogiues Subaquatiques et Sous-Marines (DRASSM), involving 130 experts from different countries including Brunei, uncovered over 13,000 artefacts from the wreck originating from Thailand, Vietnam, and China.

The discovery soon was known as The Brunei Shipwreck, and its finding gave a glimpse of Brunei’s maritime history that demonstrated Brunei’s role in maritime trades with other countries about 500 years ago. The ship was thought to have sunk between late 15th to early 16th century, and about 50 years after the great Chinese explorer, Zheng He’s expedition.

Today, many of the contents from the shipwreck are proudly displayed at the newly opened Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum. Among the items exhibited are the Chinese blue and white porcelain, likely made in Jingdezhen, China, “the porcelain capital of the world”. Jingdezhen produced porcelain for the emperor’s household and these were often referred to as ‘Imperial ware’.

These, along with other salvaged items from The Brunei Shipwreck, such as glass bracelets, beads, ivory bronze and metal objects, make up the museum’s permanent collection. They help tell the compelling story of Brunei as a past trading port, how it built the community and the growth of the Sultanate.

The museum’s other gallery includes an introduction to Kota Batu and the man-made island, Pulau Terendak. The latter was a significant archaeological discovery, as it gave historians an understanding of its life at the heart of the trade routes through which trade from Arab, Europe and China entered Brunei.

A collection of trading ship replicas and local boats and water vessels are displayed here. There is also a section on Brunei handicrafts, including kain tenunan (woven fabric), representing the various handicrafts locally made that would have been part of the trade with visiting ships.

Presently, a temporary exhibition, Sailing Deep Into The Sea, is being held. Showcasing the maritime Silk Road connecting Brunei and China over 2,000 years ago, it is jointly organised by the Quanzhou Maritime Museum of China and the Brunei Maritime Museum. The exhibition features some 130 exhibits – mostly from Quanzhou, China and include porcelain, gravestones, ship models, ancient coins, historical images and documents.

 

 

The museum is open to the public from 9am to 5pm on Saturday to Thursday and on Friday from 9am to 11.30am and then 2.30pm to 5pm. For further information, contact the Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum at 224 0083.

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