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Ref ID: 36383
Ref Type: Thesis
Authors: Barretto-Tesoro, Grace
Title: Social identities and earthenware functions in 15th century AD Philippines
Date: 2007
Source: Department of Archaeology
Place of Publication: Cambridge
Publisher: Cambridge University
Type: Ph.D.
Abstract: This research proposes that external trade had different impacts on societies in the Philippines during the 15th century A.D. It puts forward that using an agency-perspective approach contributes to a fuller understanding of the social relations in a society¬ónot just among the elites but also among other segments of the society. I argue that individuals negotiated their identity and status through routines like pottery production and participation in raiding, feasting, trading, and ritual performances. I will demonstrate that individuals wield different forms and measurements of power through the possession of certain skills and knowledge. Social relations may be scenes of power, regardless of the status of the parties involved, and such relations may have included spirits. The case study is Calatagan, which comprises several cemeteries along the coast. The burials contained a variety of objects including earthenware vessels, foreign-made ceramics, metal implements, glass ornaments, and spindle whorls. Based on the ethnohistory of the Tagalogs, the most probable group that occupied Calatagan, identities and statuses were influenced by reciprocity. I will show that this reciprocity is evident in the kinds of mortuary objects. One of the effects of external trade was craft standardisation, but pottery production in Calatagan was not standardised. Another effect is the creation of hierarchy between people and objects. This research also shows that heterarchy is a more applicable model than a hierarchical one in Calatagan. The burial objects represent a spectrum of identities. My analysis of the grave goods suggests these items signalling various functions and marking different identities were determined by their designs and locations in graves. The identities represented in the burials were cultural affiliation (usually represented by cooking pots placed at the feet and head areas or monochrome ceramics held by the hands), personal identity relating to age and sex (marked by ornaments), and prestige or status (marked by porcelain plates with sun and bird motifs covering the pelvis). Apparently gender was more marked than sex. In the burials, networks of associations were stressed more than personal identities. Some infants were placed in jars, which I interpreted as votives, the actual infant being the votive. Ascribed statuses are evident in prestige items found with non-adults. Some burials had overlapping identities: they contained objects indicating their cultural associations. It seems that a flexible hierarchy with horizontal differentiation existed in Calatagan where people had diverse sources of power.
Date Created: 10/21/2008