Interview: Findings from ancient shipwreck show amazing wisdom of Chinese, says volunteer guide

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-27 20:51:49|Editor: Xiang Bo
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by Xinhua writer Wang Lili

SINGAPORE, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Exhibits of the Tang Shipwreck at Singapore's Asian Civilizations Museum displayed the amazing wisdom of the Ancient Chinese, said the American Volunteer guide there Darlene Kasten.

With a marketing MBA, Kasten noted in a recent interview with Xinhua that the exhibits demonstrated that the Chinese people in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) had learnt to "customize for the customers on a mass scale," while people elsewhere had seldom done that before.

"I am always respectful of China, but it's amazing their innovation in terms of marketing and production dated that far back," she added.

In 1998, a shipwreck was discovered off Belitung Island in the Java Sea southeast of Singapore. Bound for Iran and Iraq, it contained a remarkable cargo of more than 60,000 ceramics produced in China during the Tang Dynasty, as well as luxurious objects of gold and silver.

The Tang Shipwreck was acquired through a donation from the Estate of Khoo Teck Puat in honor of the late Singaporean Khoo Teck Puat and was open to the public at the end of 2015.

Some of the exhibits bear evidence of influence from the exotic cultures, which experts believe to be a testimony of both the commercial and cultural links between China and the outside world, Kasten said.

Kasten cited her favorite amongst the discovery -- a golden Octagonal cup with images of musicians and a dancer as an example.

According to her, it combines the old land silk road and the maritime silk road in one object. She elaborated that the cup depicts scenes from the land silk road and was found on a ship on the maritime silk road, thus embodying the entire experience of globalization.

Much of the cargo aboard the ship was kept intact, which was very lucky, Kasten said, adding that "it's absolutely an amazing discovery" and she loved to guide on that.

Kasten has been living in Singapore for nearly two years. Last September, when she heard of the volunteer training program, she enrolled in.

"Even though it's a volunteer job, you are putting 20 to 30 hours a week, between lectures and trips and a lot of reading," she said of her formal training which ended at the end of March.

Then she wrote a paper highlighting three galleries of the Asian Civilizations Museum and presented it before being qualified for a volunteer guide this May.

This year, Kasten acted as the co-head for the new batch of guide applicants, with a total of 30 coming from Europe, America, China, Japan, Russia, the Netherlands and Singapore.

Glad to share her knowledge on the exhibits with new comers and visitors, Kasten admitted that she had never heard of the shipwreck before, and deemed it to deserve more attention.

Kasten was happy to learn that 78 pieces of the shipwreck collections were on display earlier this year in New York's Asia Society.