Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 13 – 17 April 1994, Prof. Abu Ridho was requested by Government of Malaysia, Department of Museum and Antiquities, to be a lecture and trainer on “Antiquity and Country Origin of Foreign Ceramics” to Museum Curators in the country. Located in Jalan Darmansara, Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur, the museum was founded by British and Selangor Governments in 1898, and it was then opened its door to the public for first time in 1963. The museum is extraordinary place to explore and learn about ethnology and natural history that showcases many artifacts.
Attended by more than 100 archaeologists and museum curators from Malaysia country, Abu Ridho faced a tremendous amount of challenges. As the government museum holding historical significance and is representative of society’s culture managed by remarkable experienced curators, Abu Ridho shared his knowledge and expertise on how to identify and interpret Chinese and other foreign ceramics as valuable resource for society. He also addressed how to ascertain the artifacts to adopt new ideal according to their physical characteristics, materials, historical and cultural context to provide reliable evidence and reasons on their authenticity.
Abu Ridho explained more topics, which help the curators and archaeologists to know the path Malaysia forebears trod. Malaysia culture is highly unique as it takes a form from the blend of the three races in its society: Malay, Chinese and Indian. With its multicultural entity, Malaysia represents an appealing memory that provides the link of distant past to the present generation. Like other rich Southeast East Asian Countries’ history, Malaysia carries a lot of history with its historical artifacts inherited by Malaysians’ ancestors. They had settled in Malay between 2,500 and 1,500 B.C, and the earliest tribes were the Orang Asli (indigene) of the Peninsula, Penan of Sarawak and the Rungus of Sabah. These three tribes were said to have migrated from China and India as nomadic people living in Malaysia for many years.
In later historical context, Malaysia was a part of Malacca Empire that was said to consist of the entire of the Malay Peninsula, the eastern parts of Sumatera and the Riau-Lingga Archipelago. Malacca Empire that was established by Parameswara in 1380 – 1403 is the most historical state located in the southwest of Peninsular Malaysia. With a close relationship between Malay Archipelago sultanates and Chinese dynasties, the ancient archives illuminate history of trade and tributes between both empires since 1st century. A wide range of categories of Chinese ceramics imported from China to Malacca, starting from potteries fired in low-temperature or táo (陶, about 950–1200 ℃) to porcelains fired in high-temperature or cí (瓷, about 1250–1400 ℃). These sorts of ceramics were traded and imported in different periods and cultures that have respective different characteristics.
Along with later continuity of Chinese porcelains production and periods, there were various kilns centers throughout China producing a wide range of style, design, decoration, and shape. Like in Indonesia, the past colonialism illuminates the historical artifacts throughout history of Malaysia. The arrivals of Portuguese (1511 – 1641 AD), Dutch (1641 – 1786 AD), and British (1786 – 1941 AD and 1941 – 1957 AD) in Malaysia are the clue how Chinese merchandises, including ceramics, silks, and bronzes traded and shipped by these countries. These artifacts were widely distributed and spread around Malaysia regions, either for elites’ taste or people’s daily use.
The session of lecture and training was ended, and Abu Ridho helped all curators and archaeologists research and evaluate the Chinese ceramics under Department of Museum and Antiquities guidance for 10 days.
EVENT: Training & Lecture: Identifying Ancient Chinese and Foreign Ceramics in Department of Museum and Antiquities – Malaysia.
DATE: April 13 – 17, 1994.
PARTICIPANTS: Archaeologists and Museum Curators from Malaysia
HOSTED: Government of Malaysia, Department of Museum and Antiquities
VENUE: Department of Museum and Antiquities Jalan Darmansara, Tasik Perdana, Kuala Lumpur