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Ceramic plate with blue transfer design

Date: 1836-1899
Overall: 20 x 218 x 218 mm, 0.3 kg
Medium: Ceramic
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
Object Name: Plate
Object No: 00002672

User Terms

    This ceramic plate is of Dutch origin and has a blue geometric design. It is similar to shards found at Northern Territory Macassan sites.

    For centuries Macassans were active sailing on the Timor and Arafura seas to northern Australia conducting trade with the Indigenous population. They collected trepang, turtle shell and other marine products for sale. This trade declined at the beginning of the 20th century after the Australian government introduced customs taxes and license fees for Macassan traders.
    SignificanceThis plate reflects the Dutch influence in trade between Macassans and Indigenous Australians. The Makassans were involved in the first trade industry in Australia.
    HistorySince at least the 17th century Macassan traders from Indonesia were coming to the shores of northern Australia on an annual basis to harvest trepang (sea cucumbers, beche de mer) - a delicacy favoured throughout Asia, particularly in China. At the time, Macassan traders were travelling in the most technologically advanced vessels seen in Australian waters.

    In their prahus (also spelled perahu) they sailed down during the monsoonal wet season and returned at the start of the dry season to trade with Dutch and Chinese merchants. They also collected and traded other marine products such as pearls, pearl shell, trochus shell, fish, turtle shells and meat. This trade started to decline at the turn of the 20th century when the Australian government introduced customs taxes and license fees as a deterrent.

    The contact between the local Indigenous people, the Yolngu and the Macassans had an impact on both cultures in aspects of art, trade, technology, language, economy and even marriage. The Macassan visitors are remembered in Indigenous oral history, ceremonies and paintings depicting Macassan prahus.

    Additional Titles

    Assigned title: Ceramic plate with blue transfer design

    Web title: Ceramic plate with blue transfer design

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