With the launch of the Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum yesterday and more than one-and-a-half years of preparations, the ‘Sailing Deep Into The Sea’ exhibition, which showcases the maritime Silk Road connecting Brunei Darussalam and China over 2,000 years ago has finally reached the shores of the Sultanate.
The museum was officially launched by His Royal Highness Prince Al-Muhtadee Billah, the Deputy Sultan.
Yang Jian, Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Brunei Darussalam, said, “This exhibition is jointly organised by the Quanzhou Maritime Museum of China and the Brunei Maritime Museum. The preparation work started more than a year ago and has received strong support from China’s Ministry of Culture and Brunei’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports.”
The exhibition features some 130 exhibits – mostly from Quanzhou, China and include porcelain, gravestones, ship models, ancient coins, historical images and documents.
Divided into four parts, the exhibition features ‘Ode to the Song Dynasty Ocean-going Ship: Quanzhou Port and Maritime Silk Road’; ‘Boats in Full Sail: China’s Shipbuilding Culture’; ‘Galaxy of Diversities: Religious Cultures of Quanzhou’ and ‘Dialogue between Civilisations: Exchanges between China and Brunei’.
The ambassador added, “The city of Quanzhou, which is in the Fujian Province of China, plays a special role in the historical linkages between China and Brunei.
“It was discovered by some Chinese scholars that during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the local government of Quanzhou dispatched Zongmin Pu to Brunei for diplomatic and economic missions. Pu stayed in Brunei for 11 years and died here (he was believed to be in Brunei in 1264).”
During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), “Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan of ancient Borneo, known as “Maharaja Karna” in China, led a delegation of more than 150 people to visit the Ming Emperor, which has been recognised as a historical event in China-Brunei relations. Quanzhou was the place where Sultan Abdul Majid Hassan landed after the sea voyage.”
After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Brunei and China, “His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan (of Brunei Darussalam) paid a visit to Quanzhou in August 1999, which was the first visit by a foreign head of state to Quanzhou.”
Ambassador Yang Jian continued by adding, “The ancient Maritime Silk Road, also known as the Maritime Porcelain Road, was a passage for economic and cultural exchanges between ancient China and many other parts of the world. Quanzhou was the starting point of the ancient Maritime Silk Road, where thousands of ships sailed and businessmen from different kingdoms met.
“This exhibition shows one part of the ancient Maritime Silk Road that coincides with the ‘21st Century Maritime Silk Road’, which was proposed by China two years ago. China has a long history of trade and cultural exchanges with Southeast Asian countries including Brunei.
“Admiral Zheng He, one of the greatest sailors in world history, left numerous footprints and beautiful stories all over the shores in Southeast Asia. Today, in a more interconnected world, we hope that China and Brunei, as well as the whole of Southeast Asia, will promote more exchanges and win-win cooperation for the benefits of the people of each country.”
The ‘Sailing Deep Into The Sea’ exhibition is open to the public from 9am to 5pm on Saturday to Thursday and on Friday from 9am to 11.30am and then 2.30pm to 5pm. For further information, the public can contact the Brunei Darussalam Maritime Museum at 2240083.