Manunggul Jar

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Manunggul Jar
Manunggul Jar.jpg
This elaborate burial jar is topped with two figures. The front figure is the deceased man. The rear figure is holding a steering paddle directing the boat and soul of the man to the afterlife.
Year 890-710 B.C.
Type Burial jar
Dimensions 66.5 cm (26.2 in); 51 cm diameter (20 in)[1]
Location Museum of the Filipino People, The National Museum, Manila

The Manunggul Jar is a secondary burial jar excavated from a Neolithic burial site in Manunggul cave of Tabon Caves at Lipuun Point at Palawan dating from 890–710 B.C.[2] The two prominent figures at the top handle of its cover represent the journey of the soul to the after life.

The Manunggul Jar is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest Philippine pre-colonial artworks ever produced and is a considered a masterpiece. It is denoted a national treasure and it is designated as item 64-MO-74[3] by the National Museum of the Philippines. It is now housed at the Museum of the Filipino People and is one of the most popular exhibits there. It is made from clay with some sand soil.

Discovery of the jar[edit]

It was found by Dr. Robert B. Fox and Miguel Antonio in 1962. It was found alongside the discovery of the remains of Tabon Man. The faces of the figures and on the prow of the boat have eyes and mouth rendered in the same style as other artifacts of Southeast Asia of that period. Note the depiction of sea-waves on the lid. This style of decoration places this jar in the Sa-huýnh-Kalanay pottery tradition of Southern Vietnam. The steersman's oar is missing its paddle, as is the mast in the center of the boat, against which the steersman would have braced his feet. This symbolizes that they are traveling to the next life. In secondary burial, only bones were placed in the jar, and the jar itself is not buried.

Pre-colonial burial rituals and practices[edit]

Ancient Filipinos believed in life after death and in the relation between the dead and the living (Agoncillo, 1990).[4] Jar burial is one of the most common burial practices in Philippine pre-colonial culture with substantial archaeological evidences recovered. The Tabon Caves jar burial sites range in date from 4250 to 2000 BP but the practice continued until several hundred years ago (Fox 1970: 67, Jocano 1975: 105).[5][6]

There are two types of burial practices during the pre-colonial period: primary and secondary. In primary burial, the bodies of the dead were placed inside jars and were buried. Secondary burial is the practice of exhuming the body of the dead after a year or more, removing and washing the bones, and putting selected parts which were mostly teeth and skulls, inside the vessel or jar. These were also buried later on (Jocano 1998: 115).[7]

The Manunggul Jar is used for secondary burial purposes. This involves treatment of the decomposed body as mentioned above by cleaning or even painting the bones, usually followed by a ritual ceremony.[8]

Cultural minorities who lived in Palawan before had beliefs concerning the Manunggul Jar. The Tagbanuas believed that souls of the dead reach the afterlife through their journey by boat. This boat is seen in the imagery of the sculpture on the jar.[9] On top of the lid is a boat with two human-like figures representing the souls sailing to the afterworld. The boatman appears to be steering rather than paddling and both figures appear to be wearing a band tied over the crown of the head and under the jaw; a pattern still encountered in burial practices among the indigenous peoples in the southern Philippines. The manner in which the hands of the front figure are folded across the chest is also a widespread practice in the islands when arranging the corpse (Fox 1970: 113-14).[10][11]

Other burial jars in the Philippines[edit]

Burial jars that resemble human figures with complete facial characteristics, more widely known as Anthromorphic jars or Maitum jars, were found in Ayub Cave, in Pinol, Maitum, Saranggani Province. The said jars dated to the Metal Age about 5 BC. - 225 A.D. Each of them that were recovered from the site have unique characteristics, each portraying different facial expressions, wearing varied ornamentations, and depicting selected human body parts on the head-cover of the jars, which implies the advanced craftmanship during the pre-colonial period.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ortiz, Aurora R.; Erestain, Teresita E.; Guillermo, Alice G.; Montano, Myrna C.; Pilar, Santiago A. (1976). Art: Perception & Appreciation. Makati: Goodwill Trading Co. (published 2003). p. 266. ISBN 971-11-0933-6. 
  2. ^ "Museum of the Filipino People - Archaeological Treasures (Kaban ng Lahi)". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved 21 August 2010. 
  3. ^ pp. 40-41 Father Gabriel Casal & Regalado Trota Jose, Jr., Eric S. Casino, George R. Ellis, Wilhelm G. Solheim II, The People and Art of the Philippines, printed by the Museum of Cultural History, UCLA (1981)
  4. ^ Agoncillo, T. (1990). History of the Filipino People (8th ed.). Quezon City: Garotech Publishing. ISBN 971-87-1106-6.
  5. ^ Ronquillo, W. (2003). Jar Burial Sites and Early Pottery in the Philippines. Earthenware in Southeast Asia: Proceedings of the Singapore Symposium on Premodern Southeast Asian Earthenwares. Singapore: Singapore University Press.
  6. ^ Fox, R. (1970). The Tabon Caves: Archaeological Explorations and Excavations on Palawan Island, Philippines. Manila: National Museum.
  7. ^ Jocano, F. (1998). Anthropology of the Filipino People I: Filipino Prehistory - Rediscovering Precolonial Heritage. Quezon City: PUNLAD Research House Inc.
  8. ^ http://nationalmuseum.gov.ph/nationalmuseumbeta/Museums%20and%20Branches/kaban.html
  9. ^ Ortiz, Aurora R.; Erestain, Teresita E.; Guillermo, Alice G.; Montano, Myrna C.; Pilar, Santiago A. (1976). Art: Perception & Appreciation. Makati: Goodwill Trading Co. (published 2003). pp. 266-267. ISBN 971-11-0933-6.
  10. ^ Ronquillo, W. (2003). Jar Burial Sites and Early Pottery in the Philippines. Earthenware in Southeast Asia: Proceedings of the Singapore Symposium on Premodern Southeast Asian Earthenwares. Singapore: Singapore University Press.
  11. ^ Fox, R. (1970). The Tabon Caves: Archaeological Explorations and Excavations on Palawan Island, Philippines. Manila: National Museum.
  12. ^ http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/nationalmuseumbeta/Collections/Archaeo/Pots.htm

External links[edit]

  • "Manunggul Jar". National Museum of the Philippines. Retrieved 2013-07-02.