Five 10th graders found centuries-old Chinese ceramic tiles at Pokkanarendal and Pallapacheri in Ramanathapuram district, in what can be described as further evidence of the trading relationship between Tamil Nadu and the Chinese.
Manoj, Ramkumar, Fidel Castro, Aswinraj, and Balaji—five students in the heritage club at Thirupulani Suresh Sudha Alghan State Memorial School—found the tiles in the field near the Panchayat Union Primary School in Pokkanarindal and in the field east of the Sethopati Palace in Pallapacheri near Thirupolani. They handed it over to the council’s secretary and archaeologist, V Rajaguru.
The school’s Archaeological Preservation Board has been in operation since 2010, where students learn to identify artifacts and to read and copy inscriptions.
After examining it, Rajagouru said that there are two types of Chinese pottery – porcelain and celadon.
“A closer look at the porcelain tiles reveals a web-like structure inside and out. Made of white clay, the top has been painted with designs and shapes and then polished with salt to make porcelain-type ceramics,” he said. “Here I found broken tiles from bowl, jar, and saucer,” he said.
The surface of the white porcelain is painted with red, black, brown, blue, yellow stripes, flowers, curves and leaf patterns. It dates back to the medieval period of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries AD.
The Chinese ceramic tiles found by the students were handed over to Sivakumar, curator of the Government Museum at Ramanathapuram.
Found in coastal areas
Porcelain was an important Chinese commodity from the 10th to the 13th century AD. They bought pearls and clothes from the Pandian kingdom. There are reports that China and Tamil Nadu have good trade relations. Earthenware from China was unloaded at Periyapatinam port near Ramanathapuram and then sold throughout the kingdom.
Moreover, foreign travelers Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta referred to Periyapatinam in their travels. Recent excavations conducted by Tanjore Tamil University have led to the discovery of a large number of Chinese ceramic tiles.
Fragments of Chinese porcelain have also been found in all coastal areas of Tamil Nadu that have been excavated so far.
Chinese porcelain is found in most coastal areas from SP Pattinam to Keezhakkarai and inland at Ramanathapuram, which covers a quarter of the total coast of Tamil Nadu. While students did indeed find these in the school buildings of Thyrupolani, tiles were also found in the villages around Thyrupolani, indicating that Chinese ceramic vessels were in use by the people of the area from a long time ago.
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