Discovering Asia's ceramic development


SphaleriteThese chunks of sphalerite were found in a number of storage jars on the Turiang shipwreck, and were probably sold as glitter make-up. It flakes easily, and could be placed on the cheekbones and in the hair. This is believed to have been a common cosmetic during the 14-16th centuries, but the zinc sulfide it contains would be unlikely to pass safety tests today.

Glass beads / bangles

Glass beads, length 11-13mm, diameter 4-8mmBronze bangles, diameter 6cmCobalt-blue glass beads were found in a storage jar on the Xuande site. Bronze coiled bangles in children's sizes were also found - similar to bangles known in Thailand since prehistoric times. Although both beads and bangles were used for beauty, they were also a form of trading currency.

Lead 'bidor'

Conical lead ingotsTin 'bidor' were common currency in Malaysia during the 14th to 18th centuries. Various sizes represented different values, according to the current value of the tin content. These 'coins' are identical in size and shape to Malaysian tin 'bidor' but are made of lead. Each weighs 1.5kg. They were found on four ships - the Nanyang, Longquan, Royal Nanhai and Xuande - dated tentatively to between 1380 and 1540. None were found on the earlier Turiang or the later Singtai or Desaru. Lead 'bidor' may have represented a different denomination of currency. Shopping seems easier today!

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