Tag Archives: Prehistoric Philippines

#185 Manunggul Jar

The Manunggul Jar is designated as a Philippine national treasure and is on permanent exhibit at the National Museum in Manila.

A so-called secondary burial jar, the jar was found in one of the chambers of Tabon Cave in Palawan. Dated from about 2,800 years the jar was found by National Museum and US Peace Corps volunteers in March 1964. The faces of the figures and on the prow of the boat have eyes and mouth rendered in the same style as other artefacts in Southeast Asia of that period. 

There is a depiction of sea-waves on the jar’s lid, and experts attribute this decorative style to 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 the figures are travelling to the next life. Secondary burial was fairly common in the Philippines and the rest of Southeast Asia until quite recently, according to experts. In secondary burial, only bones were placed in the jar and the jar itself is not buried.

The Manunggul Jar is an important archaeological artefact providing insights into prehistoric Philippines. It shows the early Filipinos’ concept of death and their belief in an afterlife and that there were means to communicate with their dead relatives, a tradition that is still practiced by many indigenous groups in the Philippines (from Wikipedia).

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