The Tek Sing (which means “True Star” in Chinese) was a large Chinese junk, which sank on 6th February 1822 in an area of the South China Sea, known as the “Belvidere Shoals”. Undertaking its attempted journey from Amoy to Jakarta were 1600 emigrants and an enormous cargo, which included silks, spices, and 350,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain. Indeed, some of the cargo was even strapped to the ship’s hull, but its tight packing allowed it to become the largest cargo of Chinese porcelain ever to be salvaged from a wreck.
The great loss of life associated with the sinking has led the Tek Sing to be referred to in modern times as the “Titanic of the East” (cf. Nagel Auctions, ‘Tek Sing Treasures’, 2000, TS 137).
Swatow (which is now known as Shantou in Guangdong province) was an important South China port, producing export porcelains since the 19th century.