The Sinan Shipwreck and Material Culture of the Maritime Trade in Medieval Japan

Third Thursday Lectures
Thursday 21 Jun 2018 | 6 PM

Weston Room
Norwich Cathedral Hostry
Norwich NR1 4DH

Dr Jungeun Lee
Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow

About the Lecture

In August 1975, near the small island of Sinan-gun in South Jeolla Province, off the southwest coast of Korea, a fisherman found six celadon objects in his fishing net. These celadon objects were made from Longquan kilns in Yuan China (1271-1368) and were put in the sea by the Sinan shipwreck. The Sinan ship was a 14th century trade ship that left Ningbo, China, for Hakata, Japan, and the discovery of these objects revealed the Sinan shipwreck to the world.

From 1976 to 1984, underwater excavations recovered a total of 24,000 pieces, including ceramics, metal, stone and wooden objects, and lacquer wares.

This talk will explore the various items recovered from the Sinan shipwreck that help us understand the material culture of maritime trade between China and Japan and discuss the popularity of Chinese objects in medieval Japan. Through a close reading of contemporary visual and written sources from medieval Japan, the talk will also examine how these recovered objects were used in diverse contexts and settings, such as temples, shrines, and elite residences.

About the Speaker

Jungeun Lee is a Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures. She is currently working on a book, From Authority to Commodity: Formal Display in Premodern Japan, about the multifaceted meanings of the Ashikaga collection and its interior display. Her research interests include formal interior display, visual and material ornamentation in architectural settings, court and shogunal patronage on arts and their collections, and the inter-cultural relationship among the arts of Japan, Korea, and China. Dr. Lee received her PhD in History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh. She has held fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Predoctoral Fellowship and the Korea Foundation, and before coming to the Institute, she worked at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Museum of Korea.

To book your seat, please go to the booking form or email the Sainsbury Institute.

Book seat

About the Third Thursday Lecture Series

The Third Thursday Lectures hosted by the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures are on a range of topics related to the art and culture of Japan. Talks begin at 6pm (50-minute lecture followed by refreshments). Speakers are all specialists in their field and the talks are intended to be accessible to those with no prior knowledge of Japanese history.

Admission is free and all are welcome. Booking essential. To book your seat, please go to the booking form or email the Sainsbury Institute

Book seat E-mail Sainsbury Institute

The lecture will be held at the Weston Room, Cathedral Hostry, Norwich NR1 4DH.


Future Third Thursday Lectures

19 July 2018 – Professor Peter Nosco, University of British Columbia
Thinking for Oneself: Individuality in Early Modern Japan, with some memories of Carmen Blacker

Book seat

Please note there will be no Third Thursday Lecture in August


The Third Thursday Lecture series is funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, Yakult and the Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Charitable Trust.

Third Thursday Lectures is a monthly lecture series supported by

TTL logo GBSF Yakult

Image: Celadon Vase with Fish-like Dragon Handles
Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)
H. 15.8cm
Recovered from the Sinan shipwreck
National Museum of Korea