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14 December 2006 Newsletter

Next Meeting Wednesday, January 10, 2:30 pm, Meyer Auditorium, Freer Gallery

Dragon Sea by Frank Pope.

The next meeting of the Washington Oriental Ceramic Group will be on Wednesday, January 10 at 2:30 pm in the Meyer Auditorium of the Freer Gallery. Invited guests will include Freer/Sackler docents and WOCG members. Our speaker will be Frank Pope, author of a new book "Dragon Sea", concerning the daring bid to raise a sunken trove of 15th century Vietnamese porcelain from the depths of a treacherous stretch of water off central Vietnam. Over 150,000 northern Vietnamese ceramics were recovered. After Vietnamese museums took their pick the remaining pieces sold in San Francisco in 2000 for millions of dollars. As dive manager, Pope had a front row seat on the dramatic deep sea recovery of the precious cargo from the Hoi An ship wreck. The Freer Museum has examples of Vietnamese stonewares from that era now on display including a piece from the Hoi An cargo itself. No RSVPs are necessary, simply show up at Freer’s Meyer auditorium before 2:30 pm.

2007 WOCG Member Dues

2007 WOCG dues are now due. I am repeating below my appeal of early November about our budget problem.

"We have a budget shortfall caused by the need to rent laptop projectors for WOCG presenters. We can expect future speakers to increasingly use this technology as laptop computers are becoming the most popular way to store and project images. The tried and true Kodak carousel for 35 mm slides is no longer even manufactured. Rent for the laptop projector for our October 28 talk was $166. Next Friday’s talk by Etsuko Rodriguez will also require a laptop projector. In October and November rental costs would total nearly $340. The small surplus from last year’s dues and all of 2006’s are exhausted.

Continuing to rent these pricey projectors does not make budgetary sense. I have researched buying a laptop projector. They run from $650 to $1500. I propose purchasing the least expensive one. To cover costs I ask that the members increase their annual dues for 2007 to $25.00, on a one time basis. If each member chips in $25.00 this will cover the one-time cost of buying this projector. We have never increased dues and I am reluctant to recommend a permanent increase, so after this purchase annual dues will return to $10. Anyone who wants to contribute more than the additional one-time $15.00 please feel free to do so."

Many have already paid and I appreciate this very much. For the rest of you please pay promptly. Thanks.

16th century Kraak dish made in southeast China, like the porcelains carried by Spanish galleons.
16th century Kraak dish made in southeast China, like the porcelains carried by Spanish galleons.

Synopses of last two sessions:

Etsuko Miyata de Rodriquez

On November 10 Etsuko Miyata de Rodriquez spoke about the extensive 16th-17th centuries trade that Spain carried out with Asia through Manila. The trade started in 1565, not long after Spain seized the Philippines. Chinese and Japanese and possibly Portuguese merchants from Macao traded porcelain, silk, lacquers and other luxury items in Manila for Spanish silver from American mines. Galleons, the great cargo ships of Spain, criss-crossed the Pacific to and from Acapulco. Excavations in Mexico City have turned up late Ming dynasty (1368-1644) Kraak blue and white porcelains in former merchant quarters. In Mexico traders included monks, wealthy merchant families sometimes having sons living in Manila and possibly Christianized Jews from Portugal. A large number of these luxuries continued their voyage across the Atlantic to Spain. Many Asian objects, however, remain in Mexican and Peruvian collections.

State Department Tour

On December 1 WOCGers toured the Diplomatic Reception Rooms of the State Department. A knowledgeable tour guide pointed out the 18th and early 19th centuries decorative arts treasures in these rooms, which are used for diplomatic and other official entertaining. We saw great examples of museum-quality furniture, silver, porcelain and portraits, including armorial china used by our first presidents.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and good luck in the Year of the Pig, which starts early in February.

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