A talk, organised by the Kerala Council for Historical Research explored the evolution of an art that is so uniquely Chinese that porcelain is often referred to as ‘China’ in English parlance

Be it a shard of glass, a strand of silk, or a fragment of ceramic, an object unearthed as part of archaeological excavations cannot be discarded simply because it is broken and forms part of the findings that have been dug up whole, Ran Zhang, Ph.D. scholar from the U.K., has said.

Belonging to the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham, Mr. Zhang has intensively studied the subject of Chinese ceramics and their trade, and he is here in the city to examine ceramic artefacts unearthed at Pattanam.

A talk, organised by the Kerala Council for Historical Research at Nalanda on Tuesday morning, explored the evolution of an art that is so uniquely Chinese that porcelain is often referred to as ‘China’ in English parlance.

“There’s this tendency to keep only high-quality objects, and often, only 10 per cent of the actual findings are reported,” Mr. Zhang said. Other limitations, in the form of imitations of traditional Chinese pottery flooding the market, also posed a concern, he said.

His conclusion was simple. “We need to work together,” the Chinese-origin scholar said. Such an engagement could piece together several historical puzzles. For instance, with his subject, the details of certain maritime trade links and activities were still blurry, but this could be addressed if the countries exchanged and discussed their findings.

Speaking to The Hindu later, Mr. Zhang spoke about the need to further understand the trade route that linked China and India. Mr. Zhang will visit the Pattanam excavation site.