Long before Chinese immigrants arrived on the shores of Jamaica, many Chinese-made objects made their way to Jamaica in the cargo of merchants and pirates.
One such object that made its way to Jamaica, is this beautifully preserved porcelain figure of Kuan Yin, which is considered to be the feminine form of Buddha.
It measures at only ten inches tall and has also been referred to as a Madonna and Child. It was discovered in the submerged ruins of Port Royal by Robert Marx during one of his expeditions in the nineteen sixties. The statue was made in Te-Hua, China, in the early 1600s from a type of porcelain known as Blanc de Chine.
A common Chinese export in the seventeenth century, Blanc de Chine was used for both religious and non-religious figurines as well as small household articles. Other finds of this type in the ruins of Port Royal include cups and the Chinese lion-dog.
The presence of these articles in Port Royal in 1892 vividly illustrates the extent of the shipping links with that town and the wealth of some of its inhabitants.
– Information compiled by Sharifa Balfour, assistant curator, National Museum Jamaica.