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At a building site in Heze in Shandong Province, an ancient ship from the Yuan Dynasty was unearthed from an ancient river bed. The digging process has turned up more than one hundred cultural relics, but three relics in particular are receiving the greatest amount of attention.
The three cultural relics are blue and white porcelains of the Yuan Dynasty, about 700 years ago. The biggest one of the three is estimated to be worth more than 150 million Yuan or 22 million US dollars.
The ship has been sleeping under the earth for more than 600 years. But the blue and white porcelain called "Plum Blossom Bottle" still retains its vivid color.
The painting of Chinese dragons is still clearly visible, making it a rare find in China.
Zhang Qilong, Director of Heze Institute of Cultural Relics, said, "This unearthed bottle should be from Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province. It was called "Plum Blossom Bottle" in the Qing Dynasty as its small mouth can only contain a tiny branch of plum blossom. It was used to be a container for wine but later it has become a household decoration."
The Blue and White Porcelain of the Yuan Dynasty is particularly large in size with a thick roughcast. Generally there are bottles, pots, bowls and plates, with the traditional flavor of the former dynasties of Tang and Song.
The Yuan dynasty is a key period for the development of the firing techniques of the Blue and White Porcelain in China. The raw material is smalt imported from Persia. The smalt with pure white porcelain body and clear glazes together form a full color Blue and White Porcelain. It was a very expensive item during the Yuan Dynasty. And the "Plum Blossom Bottle" discovered this time is of the highly valued and rare type from the Yuan Dynasty.
Zhang Qilong, Director of Heze Institute of Cultural Relics, said, "The painting skill is excellent. Whether it's the Chinese dragon picture or the lotus, both are very dainty and beautiful. It can not be made at one time. You can see there are two joints on it. It is not an easy task to make such a big bottle."
Only 400 Blue and White Porcelains of the Yuan Dynasty have been unearthed so far. And every one of them is considered invaluable. In July 2005, a Yuan porcelain in London was auctioned equivalent to 230 million yuan or about 35 million US dollars. The price was equivalent to 2 tons of gold as priced on the same day.
Besides this "Plum Blossom Bottle", there are two other Blue and White porcelains discovered... one bowl and one plate.
Ren Qingshan, Officer of Cultural Relics Dept, Heze Museum, said,"We have found some parts of those two Blue and White porcelains. I believe all parts of this plate have been found. In the near future, cultural relics experts can present us a whole plate."
With the process of digging and repairing work at the site, more surprises have appeared. For example, Shoushan stone carvings and other rare porcelains have been discovered. All are considered to be of great value.
For more photo's of the sunken ship, click HERE