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Social use and value of trade ceramics: an analysis of mortuary practices in Calatagan, southwest Luzon, the Philippines

Chang, K.-J.; (2008) Social use and value of trade ceramics: an analysis of mortuary practices in Calatagan, southwest Luzon, the Philippines. Doctoral thesis, UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

The widespread distribution of high-fired glazed ceramics from China and Mainland Southeast Asia is one of the striking features of protohistoric Philippines as evidenced in the archaeological record. They were not only an important indicator of inter-regional contact, but were also highly valued possessions in local societies, though their role is poorly understood. Thus, this thesis undertakes a theoretically-informed investigation of the social uses and value systems of imported trade ceramics vis-à-vis locally made earthenwares, from seven cemeteries in Calatagan, southwest Luzon, dating between the mid-15th and mid-16th centuries. In previous studies, a key problem is the assumption of trade ceramics as only representing prestige goods, in which they are treated either as categorically distinct from local earthenwares or as an undifferentiated class of material objects. This study instead examines trade ceramics and earthenwares in terms of patterns of similarity and difference in their social uses. To do so, specifically, this research sets out to investigate particular hypothesised relationships between trade ceramics and earthenwares: quantity, association, location, gradation, and imitation, as well as variables such as age, physical treatment, body arrangement, variation between sites, and different burial types. The results of quantitative analysis show that the use and value of trade ceramics are manipulated in more complicated ways. It is, therefore, reasonable to suggest that trade ceramics are not categorically distinct from earthenwares among late protohistoric Calatagan society. This thesis thus contributes to our understanding of the mortuary practice, as well as various social uses and values of trade ceramics in protohistoric lowland Philippine societies and of the changing nature of the interaction between local society and long distance maritime trade in Southeast Asia. At a theoretical level, this thesis also contributes to the general understandings of the social value of material culture amongst complex societies.

Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Title:Social use and value of trade ceramics: an analysis of mortuary practices in Calatagan, southwest Luzon, the Philippines
Open access status:An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language:English
Additional information:Third party copyright material has been removed from the e-thesis
UCL classification:UCL > School of Arts and Social Sciences > Faculty of Social and Historical Sciences > Institute of Archaeology

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