Burial Goods in the Philippines:

Grace Barretto-Tesoro
2003 Tonan ajia kenkyu  
It has always been the practice to relate materials interred with the dead as markers of status. The value assigned to these burial goods are most of the time from the value system of the researcher. However, the value systems of past cultures were most likely different from that of the researcher. In this paper, I am proposing an independent system from ethnographic analogy by which burial goods can be evaluated from an archaeological perspective. Burial Goods as Prestige Goods Materials found
more » ... ods Materials found with human skeletal remains are often referred to as burial goods. They are also called grave goods or grave furniture. It is a common practice to relate the burial goods to the status of the individual. However, it is appropriate to evaluate the nature of the burial goods prior to establishing the relationships between burial goods to the individual interred [Barretto 2002] . It is possible that the goods are not even related to the dead person but to those who buried the dead [ibid.; Pearson 1999]. Earle [1991] defined prestige goods as wealth objects. These generally symbolize power and markers of elite status. In the Philippine setting, the elements of status associated with the elites and nobility based on ethnohistory and ethnography were gold, silver, ivory, semiprecious stones, garments of imported Chinese silk or elaborately woven cotton, flower diadems, pegged teeth, beaded and gold ornaments, iron and bronze weaponry, brass and copper gongs and drums, metal sword with wooden scabbard, imported ceramics, and elaborate tattoos [Patanñe 1996; Junker 1999a] . It has been known that these items were prestigious because, primarily, the majority of these primitive valuables were made of non-local materials and/or unusual materials. Prestige goods possessed intrinsic characteristics which were evaluated and perceived by a particular society as admirable, desirable and worthy based on the cultural function and significance of the object in that society. According to Bronson's [1977] proposed settlement model in coastal states in Southeast Asia, centers were organized along river mouths. This was one of the dendritic systems used by Junker to explain the spatial organization and exchange in Tanjay. Secondary and tertiary centers were located upstream at primary and secondary river junctions. Further upstream, relatively distant settlements are producers or procurers of products from more remote areas. All settlements are involved in trading with each other. According to Solheim (pers. comm. 2002), salt is one of the most important lowland products that uplanders take with them. However, this is difficult to substantiate archaeologically.
doi:10.20495/tak.41.3_299 fatcat:r4s6l7dco5ckjl57gmq7mcpvtq