Almost twenty years ago, in 1998, a simple fishing trip in the Java Sea turned into a remarkable historic discovery -- a ship that had been lost to the sea hundreds of years earlier, still filled with precious metals and ceramics. This discovery revealed that, as far back as the ninth century, societies of Southeast Asia had traded by sea as well as land.
The Asia Society of New York celebrated this incredible find with their most recent exhibition, “Secrets of the Sea: A Tang Shipwreck and Early Trade in Asia.” This collection, featuring art pieces and cultural treasures that tell the captivating story of the earliest maritime trade in Asia can be viewed on display through June 4th.
The significant event was also honored on April 27th, 2017, at the Society’s Tang Dynasty Ball, where the serene indoor garden of the Asia Society Museum transformed into a extravagant venue. There, guests were regaled with the story of the ship’s travels from China all the way to Vietnam, India, and then the Middle East while enjoying a cocktail reception. Guests were then left to explore the pieces installed on the museum’s main floor while listening to a special performance by the Siong Leng Musical Association. The ensemble, who made their United States debut at the event, played a beautifully arranged harmonic piece on traditional instruments.
As the night went on, the group continued to play as they led guests in a procession from the garden to the dinner room, where they were served a five-course meal crafted to parallel the intended route of the ship -- dishes from China, Vietnam, and the Middle East all made appearances. The evening continued after dinner for a lively hour of dancing and desserts. Co-Chairs of the event, Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, creatively captured the essence of the exhibition while hosting a tasteful night of celebration.