8 Chinese Porcelain/Ceramics found in the wake of Zheng He’s Fleet

Chinese Porcelain/Ceramics found in the wake of Zheng He’s Fleet

Indian Ocean and Africa
Early Ming porcelain found by first Europeans explorers in palaces of rulers the length of the East African coast from Djibouti to Sofala and inland as far as Zimbabwe (Martin Tai evidence).
All down East coast (Philip Snow)
Fragments of Chinese celadon porcelain at Mapungubwe, dated to about AD1250.
Transkei Wild Coast, South Africa – broken pieces of blue and white porcelain can often be found as can beautiful glass beads – Linda Murray
Bassas da India (half-way between Mozambique and Madagascar).
Readers have dived wrecks of unknown origin here, and have found Chinese porcelain ware – Max HazelhurstA Reader who grew up near Durban, South Africa, found shards of ceramics (in earthworks for a new housing estate) which were similar to those in the history museum in Durban which are from the Ming Dynasty.  The history museum in the centre of Durban has/had a number of references to the Ming Chinese trips including locations where ceramics had been found.   (Ken Grubb)

Indonesia, Madagascar, Pilippines
Colleagues of a reader bought a lot of very old Chinese white and blue porcelain from tribes deep in the jungle of Sarawak, Borneo. (Wim van den Bosch)

North America, Pacific Coast
Canada, Vancouver Island (BC) Chinese clay vase (B. Morelan); Chinese storage jars from seabed (Tofino) (Hector Williams)
British Columbia  – Chinese vase brought up in a fisherman’s net in the 70’s or 80’s in a village of Ucluelet on the west coast of BC – (Sylvia Hockley)
Washington State (Ken Holmes and Sean Griffin).
Lake River Potters – Washington coast (R Hassell)
Oregon – the Netarts sand spit (Site 35-Ti) – including some of Zhu Di’s reign.
California – near Point Cabrillo lighthouse – Ming ceramics in ruins of old Indian village.
New Mexico – Two Chinese porcelain lion figures that are used ceremonially at Zia Pueblo. In Leslie A. White’s publication, Zia –The Sun Symbol Pueblo (Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 184, 1962, Plate 1) the author reported “…Incidentally, I made inquiry among Sia [Zia] informants about these little Chinese ‘lions’ and learned that they are still in use by the Shima society, which is intimately associated with the Flint (or Knife) society, and that they are highly regarded as supernatural beings…” – Dwight P Lanmon
A Nez Perce Indian from the reservation in Idaho has told a reader how he was working along the Snake River at Lewiston / Clarkston several decades ago. They came across a hoard of beautiful Chinese relics and treasures including boxes of porcelain of obvious Chinese origin, and very old. He was certain that the items must have been left in the area years before the documented arrival of the  Chinese to mine the gold in the mountains southeast of Lewiston – Malvin Joye

Caribbean – Florida Keys
(a) Florida Keys – shards of blue and white ceramics.
(b) Les Saintes – blue and white ceramics (R Heffner III).
(c) Rhomboid Keys off Belize – finds of blue and white Chinese Porcelain – Walter H. Ziegler
(d)Blue and White Chinese porcelain found at Cays near Danriga, Belize   – Walter H. Ziegler

North America Atlantic Coast
Substantial shard finds in W Virginia (to be amplified).
#21 of “Weird N.J. (New Jersey)” - Discovery of an ancient Chinese urn found at the bottom of a lake in northern New Jersey. (Ralph McGeehan)
Funerary urn found in Georgia – inscription reads Da Ming Xuande nian zhi: Made in the year of Xuan De, Ming Dynasty (Mark Smith)
Oak Island – mentions of a Chinese inscription, coconut fibres and pottery. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution had the coconut fibres from Oak Island tested and they dated both 1,000 and 800 years old and they came from the Middle East (Paul McNamee)

Central America
- Mexico, Zihuatanejo and Colima – ceramic pot / 23 ‘Ya’ characters.
Chinois tribe of Nayarit, Mexico – two locations in Nayarit close to the ocean where middens of oyster shells are reputed by the locals to have been placed in long bygone times by a tribe of Mexican “Indians” of Chinese origin. The two locations are separated about 8 miles apart, both on the ocean. In the area over the last few decades there have been found a variety of clay dolls and figurines that reputedly were dug up from the same locations as the oyster shell middens. The locals say that the middens are good places to dig for clay dolls or figurines. Located between the two sites where oyster shell middens have been found, is a prominent peak called Sierra Mono. Mono means “doll” according to the locals who believe that the peak had some ceremonial significance for the Chinese tribe of the area. The locals say that doll burying is a Chinese custom. There is also local reference to the “Chinois” (phonetic – spelling?) tribe. This used to be a somewhat isolated corner of Mexico, but in recent years the rate of influx from the rest of Mexico to this area has been rapidly accelerating.
-Ceramic pottery with Asian writing found in the large Mayan ruins in Belize – Anthony Menichini

South America
Peru – Ica, Chan Chan, Miraflores – Tai chih symbols; Nazca bowl with symbol T’ien; pair of tablets inscribed “Mount Wu Tang” (A Bowen- Jones); Chinese inscriptions of Chu Wen on ceramics; a terracota Inca figure (pre-European) of an Oriental man that appeared to be a prisoner. Possible ship-wrecked sailor. Item held at Museo Larco Herrera, Lima, Peru.  (Jose Lopez)
Juan Fernandez Islands – A quantity of Chinese porcelain dating from the 13th century has been found on one of the islands off Chile. The Tercera newspaper of 21March 2004 reported the find in January by the American treasure hunter Bernard Keiser. They found a hoard of some 10 kilos of Shang dynasty porcelain. Further to this, the indigenous people of Valparaiso today have strong Mongolian and East Asian genes. Moreover, Grotius reports the first Spanish to round the Horn found wrecked junks at 22 degrees S, some 600 miles from Juan Fernandez – Anthony Terry
Clay or terracotta figurine of a medieval Chinese official housed in the Tiawanako Museum in Bolivia.  Found during excavations at the site and was dated to around 900 AD  – Cormac Ginty
In The cruise of the “Alerte” by E.F.Knight.(a reprint by The Narrative Press in 2002, as Knight’s original voyage and book were in 1889,) on page 174, Knight describes the finding of a large cache of Chinese glazed pottery (described as “Blue Dragon” style) on the island of Trinidade, off the coast of Brazil in lat 20deg 30min South and 29deg 22min West – Capt. Rob Rae
Costa Rica – Reader Elmina Peniston found this statue (see gallery) with distinctive mongol features in the Jade Museum in San Jose.  This item plus many Jade items (not native to south America) were labelled ‘pre-columbian’.
(Paul Yih and Beloit University, Wisconsin)
· In the late 1960’s at the Emilio Goeldi Museu, Belem, there was a display of large terracotta funeral urns from the Santarem area. They were of exceptional workmanship and looked Chinese or at least Oriental and not like the work of the Incas or other high South American civilizations – Jon Coe


Bradshaw, Elecho Island, Yirrkalla, Winchelsea Island, Cape York, Gympie, Tasmania.
New South Wales coast – substantial finds of blue and white shards in tsunami debris (Professor Ted Bryant) (to be amplified).
Large Chinese Blue and white jar unearthed in the Northern territory dated to the early 15th Century and presently in the British Museum, London (Julian Byzantine)

Magellan’s descriptions of rulers dressed in silk, eating off Ming porcelain from Leyte to Spice Islands.


Cultural relic experts and NGOs have set the wheels in motion to begin reclaiming China’s national treasures from abroad. Statistics from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization suggest about 1.67 million Chinese cultural relics are held by more than 200 foreign museums in 47 countries. Some estimates put the number of relics collected by private individuals at 10 times that figure. (Miss Hui).

An artist was painting in Greenland in the Kangia near Ilullissat on the West Coat.  An iceberg overturned, and the tidal wave washed away turf and boulders below their camp, revealing an ancient midden, washing artefacts into rock pools. Readers collected the items which had been disturbed – metal and flint blades and points, glass beads, hand carved octagonal beads of crystal and amber, piles of seal and whale bones and two tiny fragments of Chinese porcelain – Tony Foster

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