Top Adsense

Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines

Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines
Poster by Timothy James Vitales / NMP Archaeology Division


First observed at the former Bagumbayan Site and Ermita School Garden in Manila in 1927 during the Rizal Province Archaeological Survey (1926-1930) Beyer and his team eventually collected nearly 250 kg of ceramic fragments and other archaeological materials. 


Ancient Philippine Clay Pipes
Ancient Philippine Clay Pipes of the 16th and 17th centuries



Among them were 2,236 plain and decorated sherds of Manila Ware and 92 clay-pipe pieces made from the same material. Beyer described Manila Ware as pottery, terracotta, or semi-stoneware, with the hard and fine-grained (typically unglazed) appearance in brown, buff, or brick-red color. Other materials collected during the survey were an assortment of vases, small jars, bottles, and stem cups or goblets that Beyer described as fluted (or scalloped), combed, and incised.


Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines


Former NMP Museum Curator and Assistant Director Jesus Peralta described the Manila Ware as a relatively high-fired earthenware with a red-colored body, matching Beyer’s observations of pottery appearing in various forms as described above.

Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines


Donna Mae Arriola made a comprehensive scientific study of the Manila Ware pottery to analyze their material composition. This was part of her master’s thesis in the University of the Philippines’ Archaeological Studies Program. 


Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines


She used infrared spectroscopy analysis to determine the mineral composition of six samples of Manila Ware sherds. Infrared spectroscopy analysis works by observing how much radiation is absorbed by a material and comparing the results with established values of identified compounds. 

Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines


Her research showed that the sherds have a combination of quartz, feldspar, and carbonates such as calcite. It also showed that the Manila Ware samples from Cavite, Manila, and Mindoro have the same composition, and possibly have the same clay source.


Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines

 

Beyer used the term “Manila Ware period,” which he determined to persist between the 16th and the early 19th century and was categorized in three phases. These phases bore Manila Ware variants, which differed in the material used for production. 


Manila Ware Pottery - The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines


The earliest Manila Ware objects were made from more fine-grained clay, while those manufactured in the mid phase were made from slightly coarser material that burned to clear brick-red. Objects in the latter stage had a coarse and porous body. According to Beyer, the change in the material used for Manila Ware pottery production might be due to the exhaustion of clay that were utilized during the early phases.


Further investigation yielded evidence that the Manila Ware pottery were fired at the kiln sites in the areas formerly known as San Pedro de Makati. Beyer’s visit to the area in 1931 led to his discovery of three defunct kilns. After an excavation around the site in the vicinity of the Pasig River, it led to the discovery of two other Manila Ware kilns, ancient water dumps, and several thousand pottery sherds similar to those found at the Bagumbayan site and the Ermita School Garden.


Manila Ware’s production replicates the form and style of European goblets, plates, cover bowls and pipes. Researchers then have assumed that the production of Manila Ware might have been intended for the elite market, part of trade items in the Manila-Acapulco network through the Manila Galleon in the 17th century. 


A selection of the Manila Ware pottery are currently on display in the exhibition “Palayok: The Ceramic Heritage of the Philippines” in the National Museum of Anthropology. 



____________

Text and photos by Sherina Aggarao, Gregg Alfonso Abbang & Nida Cuevas, poster by Timothy James Vitales / NMP Archaeology Division

©️ National Museum of the Philippines (2021)


Photo captions: Illustrations of Manila Ware specimens (image from the Manila Ware: Notes on ancient Philippine pottery, written by H. Otley Beyer. Published in Bulawan: Journal of Philippine Arts and Culture 17 ©2004.)

No comments:

Got Something to Say? Thoughts? Additional Information?

Powered by Blogger.