Monday, July 19, 2010

Jewel of Muscat gifted to Singapore

The vessel will be part of the maritime museum, dedicated to the history of the Silk Road and Oman's old ties with East Asia

Jewel of Muscat is modelled on the wreckage of the ninth-century Tang Treasure ship. (AFP)

Oman has decided to gift a famous traditional wooden vessel it built early this year to resurrect an ancient sunken Chinese ship to Singapore to be a key attraction at a museum on one of Asia’s most famous resort islands.

Jewel of Muscat was lifted out of water in Singapore’s port Sunday and would be shipped to the tiny Sentosa resort Island, where a maritime museum is to be inaugurated next year, Oman’s official news agency reported Monday.

The vessel’s 15 sailors returned to Oman last week after completing a five-month voyage to Singapore via India and other Asian countries, the agency said.

“Jewel of Muscat was lifted out of water in Singapore’s port and is being renovated and maintained before it is transported to Sentosa Island. It will be placed at the naval museum which will be formally opened next year. The vessel will be a main part of the museum which will be dedicated to the history of the Silk Road and Oman’s old maritime relations with East Asia,” it said.

Jewel of Muscat, which took several months to be built, had set sail from Sultan Qaboos Port in the Omani capital on February 16 and arrived in Singapore on July 3 after making port calls in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

The vessel was modelled on the famous Tang Treasure ship that had reportedly sunk in the Indian Ocean while laden with gold and other precious items belonging to the old Chinese Tang dynasty.

The 18-metre long 'Jewel of Muscat', a reconstructed ninth century sewn-plank ship, had started sailing in the Sea of Oman on the first sea-trial before it embarked on the five-month voyage across the Indian Ocean.
According to Omani officials, Singapore is one of the Gulf country’s oldest trading partners and Jewel of Muscat was displayed in Singapore to highlight the awareness of the old trade routes between the two countries.

They said Jewel of Muscat was built-modelled on the wreckage of the ninth century Tang Treasure ship that was carrying more than 60,000 pieces of Chinese ceramics, silver and gold artefacts, spices and other commodities.

Narrating the sunken ship’s history, Singapore’s Tourism Board said Tang Treasure shipwreck which was discovered in 1998 contained rare and well-preserved pieces of stoneware, and centuries-old gold and silver pieces including the largest Tang dynasty gold cup and an exquisitely decorated silver flask.

Later uncovered by professional salvage divers, the 22-metre long traditional vessel provides strong evidence to suggest that the early Chinese seafarers were trading in items that suited the global market over 1,000 years ago.

The treasure was purchased by the Sentosa Leisure Group in 2005 and is on loan to the Singapore Tourism Board.

Sentosa, which translates to peace and tranquility in Malay, is a popular island resort in Singapore, visited by some five million people a year.
The island, with an area of around five square kilometres, lies just half a kilometre  away from the southern coast of the main island of Singapore. It is Singapore's fourth largest island, excluding the main island.
The Silk Road is an extensive interconnected network of trade routes across the Asian continent connecting East, South, and Western Asia with the Mediterranean world, as well as North and Northeast Africa and Europe.

The Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade, a major reason for the connection of trade routes into an extensive trans-continental network.



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