Article: Chinese tablewares - The archaeology of illustration, and scratch analysis

“Chinese tablewares: The archaeology of illustration, and scratch analysis, at the Harrietville Chinese Mining Village, northeastern Victoria”, by Paul Macgregor, publishedin Caroline Spry et al (eds), Excavations, Surveys and Heritage Management in Victoria, Vol. 7, 2018, p. 85-92.

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This article is based on a paper presented by Paul Macgregor at the Victorian Archaeology Colloquium 2018, held at La Trobe University on 2 February 2018. 

Article outline

During archaeological investigations conducted at the Harrietville Chinese Mining Village in October 2017, an assemblage of Chinese and European ceramics—including tablewares—was identified. Previous analyses of tablewares from archaeological contexts associated with the Chinese diaspora have largely focused on the types of wares present and their decorative features, and how these can be used to determine ethnicity and acculturation. This article uses information derived from historical images of Chinese food practices and the results of scratch analysis on ceramics to provide a preliminary overview of how Chinese people used tablewares at the Harrietville Chinese Mining Village. 

Examples of Chinese-made Winter Green tablewares found during excavation at Harrietville: eating bowl (00182), spoon (00584/00811), teacup (00635), wine/liquor cup (00388); along with part of a European-made Asiatic Pheasant plate (00786) which may have been used as a serving plate in a Chinese eating context.

Examples of Chinese-made Winter Green tablewares found during excavation at Harrietville: eating bowl (00182), spoon (00584/00811), teacup (00635), wine/liquor cup (00388); along with part of a European-made Asiatic Pheasant plate (00786) which may have been used as a serving plate in a Chinese eating context.

Chinese food eating, contexts 1 and 2—one or two dishes of food, eating with large bowl, with or without a table. Image 021: Boatmen on Upper Yangtze River, 1871 (photo by John Thomson ca 1871). Image 009: Farmworkers eating, near Beijing, ca 1933–1946 (Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946c). Image 013: A poor family, Canton, 1869 (John Thomson 1869). Image 008: Woman eating at food vendor’s stand, near Beijing, ca 1933–1946 (Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946b). [Web sources for images are listed in article]

Chinese food eating, contexts 1 and 2—one or two dishes of food, eating with large bowl, with or without a table. Image 021: Boatmen on Upper Yangtze River, 1871 (photo by John Thomson ca 1871). Image 009: Farmworkers eating, near Beijing, ca 1933–1946 (Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946c). Image 013: A poor family, Canton, 1869 (John Thomson 1869). Image 008: Woman eating at food vendor’s stand, near Beijing, ca 1933–1946 (Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946b). [Web sources for images are listed in article]

Chinese food eating, contexts 3 and 4—several dishes of food on a table, with smaller bowls and small plates for eating. Image 006: Monks at a table eating on Miaofeng Mountain, North China, ca 1933–1946 (photo by Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946a). Image 012b: Manchu ladies at meal table, Peking, ca 1870 (John Thomson ca 1870). Image 019: Manchu ladies mission party, Peking, 1869 (John Thomson ca 1869). [Web sources for images are listed in article]

Chinese food eating, contexts 3 and 4—several dishes of food on a table, with smaller bowls and small plates for eating. Image 006: Monks at a table eating on Miaofeng Mountain, North China, ca 1933–1946 (photo by Hedda Morrison ca 1933–1946a). Image 012b: Manchu ladies at meal table, Peking, ca 1870 (John Thomson ca 1870). Image 019: Manchu ladies mission party, Peking, 1869 (John Thomson ca 1869). [Web sources for images are listed in article]