Pottery in the Philippines

Topics: Pottery, Ceramic, Porcelain Pages: 5 (1539 words) Published: January 19, 2013
Arazas, Andrea Pauline R.
B.S. Materials Engineering, Department of Mining, Metallurgical and Materials Engineering Arkioloji 1 THX 2:30-4:00

Pottery is defined as the art or craft of a potter to manufacture material from which pottery ware is made. It can be made from earthenware, porcelain or stoneware. According to the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), pottery is defined as all fired ceramic wares that contain clay materials. Pottery uses clay and may sometimes be mixed with other materials to form the clay body. Clay bodies differ in physical stages during the making of pottery. Earthenware, an example, is made of clay produced in a swampy area or in open fields near riverbanks. The process of pottery involves forming or shaping a clay body into your desired shape. It is then heated to high temperatures in a kiln that removes excess water thereby hardening the clay and setting it to a permanent shape. For aesthetic purposes, the clay body may be decorated before or after the firing process. Kneading the clay body is an important step prior to shaping the clay. It ensures an even distribution of moisture content and removes the air bubbles trapped within the clay body. Pottery is found in almost all archaeological sites. In fact, pottery has provided archaeologists with information about the past, mainly about trade and technology.

The focus of this paper will be pottery and its evolution through time. The paper will be limited to Philippine pottery only. III. EMERGENCE OF THE FIRST POTTERY
The emergence of pottery in the Philippines indicates the complexity of cultural development during the Neolithic Period. Like the rest of the early people in other parts of the world, the early man and woman in the Philippines were also highly dependent on nature. Nature provided them with the basic necessities needed for survival. In earlier times, vessels such as leaves and tree barks were used in gathering food. Not long after, the early people learned to cook using the vessels. According to Valdes (Pang-alay), humans discovered the properties of clay and how it hardens when tempered with sand and fire.

Before the Spaniards set foot in the Philippines and spread Christianity, the early Filipinos were pagan worshippers. Paganism refers to indigenous religious traditions wherein people worshipped animals and deities. The discovery of pottery led them to fashion effigies called tao-tao by the Visayans and likha or larawan by the Tagalogs.

In paganism, they offer special offerings of fruits and perfumes to appease the spirits they worship. It was believed that refusing to offer special presents to the spirits would anger them and bring illness and misfortune. The offerings were placed in earthenware pottery and offered in the fields for the spirits.

The early Filipinos also believed in life after death. For this reason, they took special care of the dead and gave “pabaon” for their journey in the afterlife. The bereaved brought food contained in clay vessels or palayok as offerings (Fox, 1959). The clay pots that were used as ritual vessels were the same pots used in their daily life. As time passed, the designs of the vessels became finer and more intricate.

The Golden Age of Philippine pottery was ascertained to be during the period when the use of metals flourished, about 2000 years B.C., but some of the earliest pottery discovered dated further back in the Neolithic Age when the development of horticulture and animal domestication dominated.

There is little of Philippine Neolithic pottery left extant as stated by Jesus T. Peralta in his work, “Pottery and Ceramics Excavated in the Philippines”. Some potteries excavated in sites widely spread in the Philippines indicate original designs and attempts for aesthetic designs in their construction....

References: Fox, Robert B., “The Calatagan Excavations: two 15th Century Burial Sites in Batangas, Philippines”, Philippine Studies, Vol. 7, Manila, Philippines; 1959
Valdes, Cynthia O.,“Pang-alay: Ritual Pottery in Ancient Philippines”, Makati City; 2003
Orton, Clive; Tyers, Paul and Vince, Alan, Pottery inArchaeology, Cambridge manuals in Archaeology; 1993
Ronquillo, Wilfredo P., Philippine Earthenware Pottery: An Overview
“Pottery dating back to the Metal Age found in Cebu town”, Cebu Daily News; 05April2011
Callister, William D. and Rethwisch, David G., Materials Science and Engineering, 8th Edition, John Wiley & Sons; 2011
Eusebio Zamora Dizon, "An Iron Age in the Philippines? A critical examination" (January 1, 1988).
Solheim, Wilhelm II G., “Further Notes on the Kalanay Pottery Complex in the Philippine Islands”
Peralta, Jesus T. and De Santos, Arturo, Kayamanan: Pottery and Ceramics from the Arturo de Santos Collection, Central Bank of the Philippines; 1908
Magbanua, Richard. Traditional Pottery Making in Antique Philippines.
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