Bakau Wreck Details & Photos


The Bakau Wreck was found in 24 m of water just off Bakau Island, which lies on the western side of Karimata Strait, Indonesia. The ship came to rest at the base of an offshore reef, and coral now covers are large portion of the hull remains.

Somewhat unusual in a tropical reef environment, a large part of the lower hull has survived. Pieces of bulkheads and frames, hull planks edge-joined with iron nails, and the positive identification of temperate timber species, collectively prove that this is a Chinese ship. Very few have ever been found in Southeast Asian waters.

Despite heavy looting by fishermen, a remarkably diverse ceramics cargo remained. There are Sukhothai and Sawankhalok wares from Thailand, Longquan wares from China, and a few underglaze decorated bowls from Vietnam. But dozens of huge Thai storage jars, containing organic materials, formed the most impressive element of the cargo. The ship seems to have been destined for Indonesia having called in at several northern ports.

Radiocarbon dating, legible Chinese coins, and stylistic analysis of the ceramics, allow for the conclusive determination of an early 15th century date. The Bakau Wreck is contemporary with the voyages of Admiral Cheng Ho.


Fine-paste-ware kendi.

Chinese brownware jarlet.

Chinese Longquan stem-cup.


Thai Sawankhalok jarlet.

Chinese whiteware ribbed bowl.

Thai Sukhothai turtle kendi.