The Iron Grapnel Supposed to Belong to the Sinan Shipwreck and Other Anchors in East Asia

Dublin Core


The Iron Grapnel Supposed to Belong to the Sinan Shipwreck and Other Anchors in East Asia


In 2016 an iron grapnel was shown in some special exhibitions marking the 40th anniversary of the Sinan shipwreck excavation in Korea. The grapnel 2.3m length has four arms, and it had been raised by a fisherman’s net in 1972 before the wreck was discovered. Around
the Song Dynasty of China, stone anchor stocks composed of wooden shanks were generally used; their distributions ranged from the Primorsky region of Russia in the north to the south in Vietnam and the Philippines. In Korea and in Japan, crude stone anchor stocks modelled after Chinese anchors were widely used at that time. From the Takashima underwater site associated with the Mongolian invasion of Japan in the 13th century or during the early Yuan Dynasty, stone anchor stocks of separate type were frequently discovered. After the Ming Dynasty, iron grapnels started to be used in large, but at the same time wooden anchors were also kept in use on different styles from region to region. In Japan, iron four-armed grapnels were appeared in some art pictures after the Muromachi Period, and then during the Edo Period those grapnels became popular as the mainstream of Japanese anchors. The iron four-armed grapnel, which is considered to have belonged to the Sinan shipwreck, seems to have equipped on a Japanese vessel dated from the Edo period to early modern times as its characters are found among Japanese grapnels. However, the possibility that it still belonged to the Sinan shipwreck could not be denied completely, because the actual origin of Japanese grapnels is unknown; Chinese manufacturing technology of grapnels, which is known for the time being, was different from Japanese one, but another technology, which would have an impact upon both Japanese and the Sinan shipwreck’s grapnels, might have existed in China.


Mitsuhiko Ogawa


The Museum of Underwater Archaeology




Mitsuhiko Ogawa




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