About this object

History of use

Chinese ceramics were important trade items in Southeast Asia during the 11th - 16th century C.E. Due to their physical characteristics - resonance, vitreosity and durability - Chinese ceramics became fully integrated with the ideology and ritual in Philippine societies and played an important role in all aspects of cultural life (Langrick, p.61). Their functions were varied and included utilitarian, ceremonial, religious roles, as heirlooms, in mortuary ceremonies as burial goods and as items of prestige.


An heirloom piece, defined by Dr. Tecson as one never in the ground, hence different from an excavated piece, and not necessarily from his family. This piece is from Zamboanga del Sur, Mindanao Island, Philippines.

Cultural context

exchange; status; ceremonial; heirloom

Iconographic meaning

In many indigenous groups of the Philippines, supernatural power was attributed to Chinese ceramics because of the ringing sound emitted when lightly tapped and their vitreous, shiny glazed surfaces which impart an impermeable quality. The ringing sound was seen as a magical voice able to attract the attention of powerful ancestor spirits. Their impermeable and seemingly imperishable surfaces were believed to have great protective power against all kinds of influences, from evil spirits to poisons (Langrick, p. 55-56).

Physical description

A small globular jar with wide mouth, flat base and five grooved lugs on the shoulder. The shoulder also has a collar of moulded buttons. The lower third of the jar is unglazed. A set of inked numbers is on the lip.